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Russell Richard

Piping Stress Analyst, Piping Stress Inc.

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How would an economic system not based on the acquisition of material wealth work?

The internet is essentially a machine that duplicates products without expending resources. It is a literal cornucopia of content products. The SOPA discussions are demonstrating that the old style economics of one-way distribution will not work for content companies in the present and future. But, what about everything else?

As we gather knowledge about the universe, we are able to create things with greater and greater ease. In the case of just about all content, we have gathered enough information to create a system that effectively generates product for no cost. There is also, usually, no profit - people make things because they want to.

Physical objects are more difficult to generate in this manner. We know this because it still takes effort and resources to make them. However, there may come a time when physical objects are created just as easily as content is created through the internet. What happens then?

What happens when we can no longer rely on profit from making things? How do we create an economic system that isn't based on acquiring material wealth?

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    Jan 20 2012: .
    Its almost obligatory to mention a startrek-style economy as an answer.
    (Replicator devices to create anything required and efficient energy generators to sustain them)

    Interestingly it isn't as far off as you might imagine (the replicators atleast).
    Prototype Bio-3d-printers are a great step into that kind of direction.
    (I would assume that besides medical, the technology could be altered to 'print' food at some point).
    That in-line with the post below regarding the internet makes the goal ever more likely, even if it is perhaps in the far distant future.

    There is also something known as the Venus project, but from what I've seen there is essentially a lot of talk from the project but they never actually say anything, which to me seems like a political way of saying 'I've got nothing'.
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      Jan 21 2012: This is precisely the kind of advancement that I am talking about! This is the thought process and technological direction that will lead us to a system where objects can be copied just as easily as content is on the internet.

      If media companies are worried about us copying songs and TV shows, imagine the rage of food companies against a food copying machine.

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