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Nanotech Replication Makes Everything Free


I recently read at wired.com that things are getting cheaper and cheaper. Like at Yahoo — unlimited data storage in your mailbox. That's insane. That's awesome! Technology is advancing so far that most of the average user's needs can be met for next to nothing. And someday soon, it really will cost us all nothing! Well, that's the vibe I got from the article, anyway.

I wish Health Care and Education were free.

In Star Trek, I believe there is no need for money. I've never really investigated this issue, but from what I can tell, the reason for this is the presence of replicator technology. It's like every room has a microwave-sized box that receives voice commands. So you say, "Computer, please make me a ham sandwich." And I guess nanomachines go to work to quickly engineer your food item. Or maybe they use a combination of hologram/transporter technology to immediately convert energy into matter in whatever configuration is required. So instead of decompiling half-eaten ham dinners and stale bread, and then reassembling the components into a ham sandwich (or instead of breaking down sewage and using that to make the ham sandwich), the machine would simply convert pure energy into a fresh meal. Cool!

I think, though, that the closest we are to achieving replicator technology lands on the side of nanotech. This means that all garbage would become fuel. Kind of like at the end of "Back to the Future" when Doc says, "I need fuel!" and tosses an old beer can into the Mr. Fusion. But instead of using the atoms and molecules of the can and beer inside for fusion, the replicator would strip the paint/label from the can, file that away, break down the metal, store that, and probably filter or process the beer somehow. Then later, you'd say "Computer, make me a can of Coke," and it would use the old metal and maybe some of the liquid. Or, you could say, "Computer, make me some aluminum foil."

With replicator technology, we'd rely on factories far less. Some would put out replicators of various sizes, and then the upgraded model would arrive that was self-repairing, and could even make copies of itself. Certain groups or institutions might have room-sized replicators, or bigger. "Computer, make me a house!"

So everyone would have access to any item, any material they wanted. All you need is the raw materials, and if they can't be found in your garbage, you'd have to get them somehow.

That would cost, right? I don't think so. I figure if nanotech is that advanced, we could have mining crews of nanotech machines digging, finding, and saving raw materials. Maybe even in your own back yard. "Computer, dig up my yard, find me some stuff, then put it back like it was. Oh, and make my lawn look better than my neighbor's." And even if you said, "Computer, make me a diamond," but were out of coal, you could probably find some carbon elsewhere. Like maybe it could break down the carbon of that leftover fruit salad in your fridge. And then if you ever got sick of that diamond, or your wife left you for the robot she conned you into replicating, then you could say, "Computer, take this diamond and make me a fruit salad."

Fruit salad! Yummy, yummy!

So, with all that technology at everyone's disposal, most things would probably be free. Maybe not land, though, in the traditional sense. But I bet there are probably ways to "make" more.

Give everyone in the world their own microwave-sized replicator. That's an end to hunger. Maybe the box can pull water from the air. An end to thirst? And it can take sand and make a palace. So some guy out in the middle of the desert could probably survive with one of those boxes, even with no plants around. He could use his own waste to make more food, (clean of course), use the sand to make connectible tiles with which he could build a house, pull water from the air (or filter sea water)…

Why not just make a jetpack?

Or how about this? If nanotech in the box can make anything, why not have nanotech in the guy's body? The machines would smoothly convert his waste into further nutrients, rearranging all the bad stuff into stuff that serves a purpose.

Seriously, I heard that they're working on some kind of artificial blood. It's so efficient that if you had it inside you, you could sprint for 10 minutes straight…

…without taking a breath.

Sure, this stuff could be used to create super soldiers, or a replicating goo that could decimate a country (or the world, and that's a widely-acknowledged fear). But I think it's so powerful that it should probably eliminate the need for war. All we need to do is to think, and figure out how to fix the problems of the chronically upset.

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