Saturday, December 31, 2016

And, Speaking Of Renewables ...

... take a look at this.

The question of renewability is not by any means limited to energy.  Until we perfect interplanetary travel, we've only got one planet, and therefore only one source of natural resources.  This has already started to force us to look at alternative methods of producing industrial and consumer goods, using materials that would not have been even considered previously because other, more usable materials were more abundant, and therefore cheaper.  But those materials are rapidly disappearing, and the need for alternative resources, and alternative methods of production, has never been greater.

The advent of 3D printing offers one potential solution.  In a very short time, this new technology has already grown to the point at which, as shown in the CNN story, it's capable of producing over 200 products, including toys, jewelry and home decorations.  It's not at all difficult to imagine that, as 3D printing is refined and improved, it will ultimately begin to dominate manufacturing worldwide, as robotics have already done.

And it's also not difficult to imagine opposition to the growth of this new technology, from potentially displaced workers in existing industries to the potentially displaced owners of those industries. Likewise, there will be debates about how the profits from this and other, similar advances are to be shared, just as those debates are advancing now with respect to other advances in productivity.

I wonder if we will ever be able to find a way to celebrate and promote our inventiveness while doing a better job of sharing the benefits of what that inventiveness produces.  I'm grateful for new technologies like 3D printing.  Along with that gratitude, however, comes the hope that we can find a way to make sure that everyone benefits from it.

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