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June 7th, 2007
We talk a lot about the future here—or, rather, we talk about a number of different possible futures. But what will the future actually be?
Barring the existence of (and our access to) parallel branching universes, we actually will experience only a single future. No matter how many different futures we may anticipate or speculate about, only one will come to pass.
* Desktop Nanofactories - Every home has one, and every user can create any product for a few pennies per ounce (plus fees, if any, for downloaded product designs). Sophisticated CAD systems allow users to customize designs or invent new products at will. Bottom-up manufacturing means the economy is turned upside down, almost literally, as consumers become producers, and corporations scramble for relevance. Ingredients are now in place for a rapidly evolving and probably unstable new arms race. Tight technical restrictions are required to prevent illicit production of dangerous artifacts, and debates rage over the need for and dangers of ubiquitous surveillance. Many of societies longest-lasting problems have been solved, while many new ones have taken their place.
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