Perhaps its bad form to use a word coined by a website dedicated to pirating digital products, but so far, physibles is the best way to describe the next wave of items that exist in the digital and physical worlds.
Physibles can best be described as objects created on a computer and formed in the physical world by computer equipment. While this may sound like another way to describe the production in any mechanized factory, physibles are more akin to a 3-dimensional printed object.
Physibles are the next big thing in consumer goods.
Through a combination of high end printers that more closely resemble the mechanized arms that assemble cars, and programs that feed the proper information to these printers, one can “print” out almost any item they would want. For the most part, this technology doesn’t exist in the public sphere, but it has achieved some major breakthroughs.
But the ability for one to forgo the mainstream manufacturing process entirely, and get the same goods they would have through such a channel, doesn’t bode well for the current economic configurations. Every economic idea that operates in the industrialized nations is created with the idea that people will have to get their goods from somewhere other than themselves. The distinct process of supply and demand governs almost every aspect of the economy, down to the resource-gathering sectors.
If one can shortcut around all of those, with only minor interaction with their computer, their printer, and the resources to create the items, then jobs and businesses will inevitably fail. And depending on the abilities that this technology may reach, perhaps even the resource-gatherers will find themselves out of a job.
This lack of jobs, created and furthering the issue that nobody will be buying anything on the traditional market, will pose many issues. Productivity will drop in all sectors, because why would people be working if there’s no value in what they’re earning?
Infrastructure will fail all over the planet, resulting in the failure of almost every device that depends on the electric grid and Internet to create these goods. We’d be back to square one, and depending on the amount of people who decided to remain on and maintain the infrastructure, coupled with how long it will actually take between the start of this process and the failure of the electrical grid and Internet services, it may take years to reestablish ourselves to the previous state.
This being said, physibles becoming a reality isn’t all bad, and the dooms-day scenario previously described is very avoidable. Simply put, for a world were major manufacturing is no longer relevant and people can create all they need from their home, strict limits on home production must be maintained, and access to the forms for the home-printed goods must be put behind a pay-wall to maintain the relevancy of working.
This must remain so until maintenance and construction can be mechanized to such a degree that minimal human interaction is necessary.
As with all major changes to the way people interact with their goods and those who make them, a certain degree of caution and planning must be implanted to ensure that the change is smooth and does not result in any major catastrophes.
The future is bright, but humans must always tend that flame to ensure it doesn’t burn out of control.
Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his schools newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.
You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault.