Take Me Home
The Human Future
Fabricator Machines...The more you have, the more you want, until you have everything you want, and then you get rather bored.
'Fabricator' is the name given to a device that can theoretically synthesise anything made of atoms. In other words, it is a molecular assembly device.
To get an idea of what this means, consider the machines that make the food and drink in Star Trek ('replicators') - except with a fabricator anything can be made, as long as the machine stores the blue-print for the construction.
The implications of fabricators, if they ever become a reality, are massive. It is impossible to overhype what the impact will be, because it won't just be the 'biggest thing since...', but rather the biggest thing ever.
Think about the implications of such a machine. If you can make all the food you need at home, all the clothes you need, even televisions and consumer devices, then you can see the entire basis of society will undergo a massive change. The impact on farmers and those in a huge range of product-based industries will be massive, with many types of jobs potentially redundant.
Those of us who do information related jobs or medical jobs may be safe, but if you create or sell a physical product, then if someone can make it easily at home by tapping in a code then your market is gone, literally overnight.
Of course, there are some big dangers about such machines should they ever come in. They would have to be locked down to stop people making illegal weapons, guns, synthesising banned substances.
One interesting debate is whether they would cut crime - many have predicted it would lead to a massive fall in 'greed' crime, stealing of physical items through for instance burglary and opportunistic crime - if you can make whatever watch you want and any computer, then why steal these elsewhere? There's no point!
And what about money - if you can make as much money as you want, then the whole financial system is turned on its head overnight. Of course, you might not even need money if you can make any product you could ever want.
Would such a device solve world poverty, by churning out huge amounts of food for those in the third world?
These are just a very cursory overview of some of the implications and things to be considered if fabricators ever become household reality. Of course, there are many technical hurdles still to be overcome and estimates in futurology tend to be about as accurate as our knowledge of the future turns out to be - but with that disclaimer, many in the know thing it reasonable to think we'll all have fabricators in our home within around 50 years, all things being equal.