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posted by LaminatorX on Sunday March 23 2014, @11:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the Where's-my-20-hour-work-week? dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

"Jeremy Rifkin writes in the NYT that the inherent dynamism of competitive markets is bringing down costs so far that many goods and services are becoming nearly free, abundant, and no longer subject to market forces and while economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring those costs to near zero. The first inkling of this paradox at the heart of capitalism came in 1999 when Napster enabled millions of people to share music without paying the producers and artists, wreaking havoc on the music industry. Similar phenomena went on to severely disrupt the newspaper and book publishing industries. The huge reduction in marginal cost is now beginning to reshape energy, manufacturing and education. "Although the fixed costs of solar and wind technology are somewhat pricey, the cost of capturing each unit of [renewable] energy beyond that is low (PDF)," says Rifkin. As for manufacturing "thousands of hobbyists are already making their own products using 3-D printers, open-source software and recycled plastic as feedstock, at near zero marginal cost" and more than six million students are enrolled in "free massive open online courses, the content of which is distributed at near zero marginal cost."

But nowhere is the zero marginal cost phenomenon having more impact than the labor market, where workerless factories and offices, virtual retailing and automated logistics and transport networks are becoming more prevalent. What this means according to Rifkin is that new employment opportunities will lie in the collaborative commons in fields that tend to be nonprofit and strengthen social infrastructure like health care, aiding the poor, environmental restoration, child care, care for the elderly, and the promotion of the arts and recreation. "As for the capitalist system, it is likely to remain with us far into the future, albeit in a more streamlined role, primarily as an aggregator of network services and solutions, allowing it to thrive as a powerful niche player in the coming era. We are, however, entering a world partly beyond markets, where we are learning how to live together in an increasingly interdependent, collaborative, global commons.""

 
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  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday March 24 2014, @12:53PM

    by VLM (445) on Monday March 24 2014, @12:53PM (#20185)

    "recycled plastic as feedstock"

    Is anyone actually doing that? For a decade or so I've heard how cool it would be to make your own filament, but no one does it, to the best of my knowledge.

    Buy 5 pounds for $50, print three times because it never works right, then throw away or toss in recycling bin.

    This is a big 3-d printing problem. My new commuter car weighs 2295 pounds. At $10/pound or whatever filament is going for, and 66% waste, assuming all plastic, printing my car would cost about $70K. However it actually cost $18K or so, including shipping from Japan. Printing an entire car is of course idiotic, but the somewhat more practical task of an auto body shop printing a replacement door after a crash, is a big problem because it's still going to be cheaper to source manufactured door panels than printing them.

    Or I "recently" got a new roof on my house and 3-d printing roof shingles simply isn't economically viable.

    I do see 3-d printing one, or a couple, steps back in the process. So I can't 3-d print roof shingles economically, but I could 3-d print a lot of the parts to make an assembly line for a plant that makes roof shingles. Think of all those conveyor belts and gears and rollers and bearings. Still need some generic steel, but...

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24 2014, @02:22PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24 2014, @02:22PM (#20240)

    3d printing is akin to general computing. It does a lot of things. But not necessarily good (or it can be depending on the program/hardware).

    However general computing always costs more time wise than a custom asic doing a job.

    For example folding or looking for aliens. General CPUs were the rage for a long time with those. Then came the GPUs. Suddenly you could do 10 work units in the time your old not too shabby CPU could do 1.

    My point? A custom factory will pop out 100x what a 3d printer will. 3d printers are wildly inefficient for mass production. They are *really* good at one off or custom parts. Simply because the cost to build the custom factory is wildly high.

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday March 24 2014, @03:04PM

      by VLM (445) on Monday March 24 2014, @03:04PM (#20269)

      I see your point. I suspect a 3-d printer would be an effective way for the car modders to print a 5 foot tall spoiler for my commuter car, or a seven inch diameter muffler tip. Or more likely a customized rearview mirror.

      For better or worse an interesting societal trend of the future might be the same people who cover their bumpers with stickers might get custom body panels molded with fish symbols and 1-800-eat-soylent witticisms.

      I could also see trademark violations. One of the locals drives a van around painted exactly like the scooby doo mystery machine, or as near as a semi-pro can produce. I predict a lot of that. Download and print this Transformers(tm) conversion kit for your car. No its not legal but it looks cool.

      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday March 24 2014, @05:26PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Monday March 24 2014, @05:26PM (#20353)

        I could also see trademark violations. One of the locals drives a van around painted exactly like the scooby doo mystery machine, or as near as a semi-pro can produce. I predict a lot of that. Download and print this Transformers(tm) conversion kit for your car. No its not legal but it looks cool.

        I imagine that in the future, police will be trained to look out for those things and arrest people for these crimes (they'll happily use tasers, and maybe even full SWAT teams in some cases). After all, IP "crimes" are considered far more serious in the US than any other offense.