A universal constructor is a machine that can replicate itself and - in addition - make other industrial products. Such a machine would have a number of interesting characteristics, such as being subject to Darwinian evolution, increasing in number exponentially, and being extremely low-cost.A. Jacksonian and I have discussed in months past what such devices would mean in various e-mails. Basically it would mean the end of scarcity. Sociologically we thought it would mean that the poor would be the mass consumers and the rich would flaunt how little they consume. At least obviously. The poor would get lots of meat and potatoes. The rich would eat half a peach on a lettuce leaf.
A rapid prototyper is a machine that can manufacture objects directly (usually, though not necessarily, in plastic) under the control of a computer.
The RepRap project is working towards creating a universal constructor by using rapid prototyping, and then giving the results away free under the GNU General Public Licence to allow other investigators to work on the same idea. We are trying to prove the hypothesis: Rapid prototyping and direct writing technologies are sufficiently versatile to allow them to be used to make a von Neumann Universal Constructor.
All good projects have a slogan, and the best have a slogan that reeks of hubris. RepRap is no exception. Our slogan is:
"Wealth without money..."
Cross Posted at Classical Values