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The New World Economy, from Sci-fi Writers

3-D Printers, along with computers and the internet, will change the economics of the future.
3-D Printers, along with computers and the internet, will change the economics of the future.Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

This is a wakeup call to the world. What we know as economics will change completely within ten years and the world needs to be ready, for the powers that be will no longer have any power what so ever. This warning comes from science fiction writers from over the past 200 years who have successfully predicted most of the inventions that we see as normal everyday items and ideas. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein she suggested that dead body parts could be reanimated using electricity. Today we use defibrillators to restart hearts and transplant body parts from dead people to the living every day. Arthur C. Clarke came up with the idea of using satellites to direct radio signals around the Earth when he was a radar operator in WWII. He then went on to write a number of sci-fi books including 2001 where he predicted that space travel would become a private enterprise like airline travel, video chat and smart computers that will do everything from turning on the lights in your house to flying your ships. Ender’s Game not only predicted the internet, but also its use to manipulate and overthrow world powers.
So what does sci-fi tell us about our future economics? Well, there are two popular themes in today’s sci-fi that are used the most. One is the world has collapsed due to some kind of apocalypse and the other is a world of high tech that lets us live with ease. Assuming we don’t destroy ourselves with the bomb there happy version of the future has its pit falls. When it comes to economics one thing that most sci-fi writers agree with is that our technology is going to get to the point where we can have anything we want with just a verbal command. We are almost there today. The internet has made knowledge easier to get than a cup of water. So much so that it changed the world of books and destroyed video rentals. Now we have 3-D printers that can make a lot of things that only need be designed into the computer first and then printed out. It started with plastics so designers could build 3-D models of things like car parts, but they are doing a lot more today. Construction companies are using giant ones to construct low cost houses and medical scientist are using them to build replacement parts of human organs with the persons own DNA.
It is only a matter of a few years when people are going to be able to buy 3-D printers, sink them to their smart phones and down load apps to make just about anything they can want or imagine. Food banks will only need to buy raw proteins and vitamins to produce meals for the hungry, people can down load any replacement parts they need to fix anything they have, or acquire anything they want. Retailers who don’t sell raw materials with go out of business. Medical services will become an on-line service as people can have their doctors see them through video cameras and transmit any medical tool to them to perform any basic treatment. When enough people learn they can down load and make solar cells and generate their own power, the energy companies will lose their monopoly over our lives. The exchange of goods for money will no longer be a factor in our society. We will still pay for services and entertainment, but the power that comes from having the most money will fade away. It is difficult to hold influence over a group of people when you no longer have what they want or need.
So why the warning? Why not just let it happen? Because people fear change and those with power will do anything they can to hold on to it. For decades large companies have been buying up patents to inventions for cheaper and more efficient things, to preserve the market for the things they sold. We need to be ready to support the inventors and innovators, while at the same time prevent those with special interest from lobbying our government to prevent the use of new technologies.