Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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always reblog COMMUNIST TREK. <3

Star Trek is radical in so many ways people often forget.

The future that liberals want

Okay, Star Trek is somewhat inconsistent on this.

But if you apply some worldbuilding you put two things together:

1. Replicators

2. “No money.”

Futurists call this the “replicator economy” and we’re already seeing the start of it.

If I was a little bit richer, I would have bought a 3D printer last year.

When you have a 3D printer, you can download things from the internet and make them yourself for the cost of the raw materials. I have a 3D-printed cosplay prop that I printed on a library printer. They charged me the cost of the raw filament for it…it cost me less than $2 for the actual object. Probably $3-4 by the time I add in the paint. It’s made of a biologically created plastic.

In the works: Creating 3D printer filament out of old plastic shopping bags. (Which cannot be multi-stream recycled, it costs a fortune). This means that it won’t be long before a normal household can make toys and the like out of plastic shopping bags.

A true replicator uses cheap raw materials and waste to make useful things.

Let’s imagine, as an interim step, that somebody creates a clothing replicator. You feed it rags and it creates new clothes, from patterns you download from the internet.

So, you have an old T-shirt. It’s fine, but for a small hole and the pattern having rubbed off. You feed it into your clothing replicator and out comes a new T-shirt with a new design. No, we don’t have this yet, but we can and probably will.

What, at that point, happens to clothing shops? Oh, yes, you might still buy some clothes - and handmade clothing, put together by an actual human, is still going to have a cachet.

But the clothes from your replicator fit you perfectly. You don’t have a size any more. Every X months you stand in a 3D scanner, it takes every measurement, and then sends it to your replicator. If you’re pregnant (assuming we don’t have ectogenesis) you can actually have it adjust your favorite dress to make baby bump room. Just like that. The most comfortable item of clothing I own is my pleather bodysuit. Not coincidentally, it’s the only item of clothing I own that was made to my measurements.

None of what we wear fits.

So…right. What happens to clothing shops? What happens to spending large amounts of money on new clothes while we throw old clothes away or give them to Goodwill?

The economy slowly develops to the point where the means of production really is in the hands of people: As individuals.

Star Trek technology means that if Picard wants a new suit, he just programs a clothing replicator to take his measurements and make him a new suit. Some people like tailors, so Garak gets to stay in business.

And eventually, if all you actually need is raw material and information, you don’t need to buy very much…

…and you end up with a society without money. It’s not “communist” in any way that has ever been tried before because, well, it requires the underpinnings of that technology. (Just don’t think too hard about where the Enterprise’s food replicators get some of their raw material).

You end up with the only valuable thing being information and the only valuable skill being art - but it doesn’t matter, because you don’t need to work for a living any more. TNG reflects the only valuable skill being art in many ways, in fact. Data’s painting. The chamber orchestra. Geordi’s hobby of designing holodeck programs. Everyone makes art, not because it’s the one thing machines can’t do, but because it’s the one thing humans (and others) won’t let the machines take over.

And that’s absolutely a future to work towards.

You end up with the only valuable thing being information and the only valuable skill being art

Well, and raw materials. And replicators. And energy. And physical space. And a wide variety of non-material goods like club memberships. And health care. And it’ll take longer than you may think to get completely away from growing crops because plants are really fucking efficient at turning sunlight into calories. And non-art valuable skills include everyone you need to run a power plant or a mine (which is probably just people supervising the robots doing the labor, but still), probably everyone you need to run a spaceship because unless we’re really stupid all our mines are on the moon and asteroids, a wide variety of engineers to collaborate with the artists on designing new replicator patterns, replicator repairpeople, park rangers, administrators, doctors, therapists…

Oh, absolutely, but what we see in Star Trek is mature technology, a society that’s already made that transition.

Also, they do still grow crops. Picard’s family has a vineyard, after all.

Fully Automated Luxury Communism.


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