We are heading towards ultra-efficient usage of resources, which means power increases while prices decrease. Consider aluminium in the late 1840s; a lack of technological proficiency entailed aluminium being more expensive than gold or platinum, whereas in the year 2013 people regularly throw away aluminium foil after cooking. Technology is liberating us from the yoke of scarcity, which Peter Diamandis explains in various videos or the book Abundance, which Peter co-authored.
Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization. K. Eric Drexler. http://www.rfreitas.com/Nano/NoninflationaryPN.pdf
26th January 2013, TechCrunch asked what precisely is the purpose of technological innovation? Tech Crunch answered the question by saying the purpose of innovation is to "...generate wealth, and ultimately, eliminate scarcity." Tech Crunch then added:
"The endgame, where we’re going as a species if we don’t screw up badly and destroy ourselves or burn out all our resources before we get there, is some kind of post-scarcity society."
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"It’s an environment that we have argued requires a new paradigm for the world. A transition towards a steady-state where money has no choice but to depreciate because its role as a store of value has been made redundant due to the general abundance of goods in society, brought about by technological innovation and efficiency."
Deep Space Industries. Planetary Resources. http://youtu.be/C_ky8G9gDI8 (NASA | Suzaku: The Intergalactic Prospector)
In January 2013 The Register addressed the possibility of Post-Scarcity on the horizon. Unfortunately The Register leaned towards the sceptical viewpoint but despite the scepticism it is nevertheless a positive step forward because at least people are genuinely considering to the issue.
"In the last year, we've seen two commercial ventures announce different plans to harvest the material bounty of the solar system by mining asteroids. So are we at the foothills of a post-scarcity economy or are people blowing a lot of hot air on the latest fad du jour?"
"It's another massive leap of faith to predict that the resources of the solar system will bring on the kind of post-scarcity society that DSI was enthusing about on Tuesday. It's entirely possible that such a utopian ideal will never happen, given human predilections. But it's worth a shot.."
"If you're going to win the next election you need a dynamite vision of progress. You need post-scarcity."
"Modern nations are politically geared up for a world of scarcity, even as a post-scarcity reality unfolds around us."
"As Professor John Quiggin points out in his overview of the current state of post-scarcity economics, technological progress towards the leisure society has continued uninterrupted. But a lack of political leadership has left us lumbered with an old set of economic principles..."
Increasing technological efficiency. Moore's Law is about the number of transistors doubling approximately every two years regarding integrated circuits. It is all about accelerating technology. The following two images are by Brett Jordan republished under the Creative Commons licence, Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).
In 1996 the Independent newspaper published an article (archived here and here) regarding how early computers had shrunk from room-size to full-stop size. The Independent also issued a note of caution regarding limits of shrinkage, based upon assertions by physicists, thus the Independent journalist stated:
"However, the inexorable progress towards smaller chips may be nearing its limit. Physicists reckon that below 0.1 micron - a size which would be reached around 2005 - significant problems could arise from the unusual phenomena known as "quantum effects", in which individual electrons can tunnel through solid barriers."
In 2013 we see how those warnings about computational limits were unfounded. The writer of the above Independent article did address our ability transcend limits, thus he conclude with a quote from Clive Hoggar, Texas Instruments: "Somehow, we always get past these problems."
The 0.1 micron (micrometre) barrier was actually broken earlier than expected. In year 2000 PC Advisor stated (archived here) the 0.1 micron barrier was expected to be broken by NEC in 2001, which is four years earlier than the 2005 target mentioned by the Independent in 1996. PC Advisor wrote: "Japanese microchip manufacturer NEC Corporation is planning to build the world’s smallest processors using next-generation 0.095 micron process technology. If its plan goes ahead next summer, the Tokyo-based company will become one of the first chip makers to break the 0.1 micron barrier."
After breaking the 0.1 barrier we haven't encountered any insurmountable problems regarding additional shrinkage, thus in 2012 Intel started selling to the public their 22nm Ivy Bridge chips. Intel's history of increasing chip performance shows a size eduction from 10 microns with 3,500 transistors in 1972, to 90 nm with 55 million transistors in 2003, and then 22nm with 1.4 billion transistors in 2012.
Shrinkage of chip size technology is estimated (forecasts vary)to achieve 14 nm in 2014, 10 nm in 2016, 7 nm in 2020, and 5 nm in 2022. PC Mag wrote in 2013: "Development of 14nm FinFET process technology (creating 3D-like transistors) seems to be on track, most likely with the foundries starting production in 2014 and products based on that production likely to appear by 2015."
IEET spectrum wrote: "The end of Moore’s Law has been predicted again and again. And again and again, new technologies, most recently FinFETs, have dispelled these fears. Engineers may already have come up with the technology that will fend off the next set of naysayers: nanowire FETs (field-effect transistors). "
The increasing efficiency of computers allows us to design increasing efficiency devices. The general level of our technology intelligence is increasing. Empowerment. Defense distributed.
(Press Release archive)
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"Whether you believe that new and better jobs will be created, or whether you’re willing to think a little bigger and imagine that we’ve finally begun the slow evolution towards a post-scarcity society built around reputation economies rather than "jobs" as we understand them, almost all of these new disruptive technologies will ultimately be good for everyone."
Subsequent to the following video 3:43, Filabot feedstock recycled plastic waste, thus we see one rudimentary example of how the res for 3D-printers will not be scarce.