Printcrime - Capitalists Who Fear Change  

Posted by Big Gav in , ,

The Daily Reckoning has an article on what Cory Doctorow presciently dubbed "Printcrime" a few years ago - Capitalists Who Fear Change.

Digital technology is reinventing our whole world, in service of you and me. It's free enterprise on steroids. It's bypassing the gatekeepers and empowering each of us to invent our own civilization for ourselves, according to our own specifications.

The promise of the future is nothing short of spectacular - provided that those who lack the imagination to see the potential here don't get their way. Sadly, but predictably, some of the biggest barriers to a bright future are capitalists themselves who fear the future.

A good example is the current hysteria over 3-D printing. This technology has moved with incredible speed from the realm of science fiction to the real world, seemingly in a matter of months. You can get such printers today for as low as $400. These printers allow objects to be transported digitally and literally printed into existence right before your very eyes.

It's like a miracle! It could change everything we think we know about the transport of physical objects. Rather than sending crates and boats around the world, in the future, we will send only lightweight digits. The potential for bypassing monopolies and entrenched interests is spectacular.

Here is what Andrew Myers reported in Wired magazine last week:

"Last winter, Thomas Valenty bought a MakerBot - an inexpensive 3-D printer that lets you quickly create plastic objects. His brother had some Imperial Guards from the tabletop game Warhammer, so Valenty decided to design a couple of his own Warhammer-style figurines: a two-legged war mecha and a tank. "He tweaked the designs for a week until he was happy. 'I put a lot of work into them,' he says. Then he posted the files for free downloading on Thingiverse, a site that lets you share instructions for printing 3-D objects. Soon other fans were outputting their own copies.

"Until the lawyers showed up.

"Games Workshop, the U.K.-based firm that makes Warhammer, noticed Valenty's work and sent Thingiverse a takedown notice, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Thingiverse removed the files, and Valenty suddenly became an unwilling combatant in the next digital war: the fight over copying physical objects."

There we have it. The American Chamber of Commerce - the supposed defender of free enterprise - is in a meltdown panic about new technology, determined to either crush 3-D printing in its crib or at least to make sure it doesn't grow past its toddler period.

In the 1940s, Joseph Schumpeter said that the capitalists would ultimately destroy capitalism by insisting that their existing profitability models perpetuate themselves in the face of change. He said that the capitalist class would eventually lose its taste for innovation and insist on government rules that brought it to an end, in the interest of protecting business elites.

1 comments

3D printing and its butcher cousin desktop CNC are already spreading too rapidly to be stopped. Opensource tech teams like the folks doing the Global Village Toolkit are creating whole ranges of non-proprietary production technology which will put the means of production so securely in the hands of the people that no one will be able to take them away. There will be plenty of fights over intellectual property like RPG figurines, but really most manufactured items of practical use are in the public domain anyway. Patents only last a few years on manufactured items.Only because we as a society have been divorced from the means and skills of production for a few generations have the capitalists been able to keep us as easy cash cows.That day is almost over.

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