You would have to be living under a rock if you have yet to hear about either of the two most exciting technologies of our time, Bitcoin, and 3D printing. Both technologies have seemingly snuck up on us all in the last few years, as well as world governments. Government officials around the globe are scratching their heads as you read this, wondering what oversight, if any, should be put into place to protect the populous, while techies around the world seem to be two steps ahead of them all. The uneasiness isn’t only felt by world leaders, but also by many ordinary people affected by the mass media’s sensationalism, which has shed negative light upon both new platforms.
There is no doubt that Bitcoin and 3D printing are controversial subjects, but at the same time, the positive attributes of each, in my opinion, will far outweigh the negatives. Bitcoin has been seen as the currency of thieves, drug dealers, and the underground economy, while 3D printing is viewed as the evil which may eventually lead to society’s demise. This is of course from the pessimists’point of view. Although Silk Road was the largest online drug and contraband shop to ever exist online, and the ability to 3D print a gun within a few hours time could pose a major dilemma to society, these are all things which can be overcome. In fact, last year Silk Road was busted, and several arrests were made.
Both upcoming technologies will work in conjunction with each other, and shift the economy in a direction that has never been visited. This will not simply be a small change within a few economies around the world, but instead an entire economic paradigm shift, an enormity of change which may only be seen once per millennium. Yes, that’s major, and it’s happening quicker than even I had imagined.
Bitcoin will allow for nearly free trade throughout the world, permitting people in Japan to purchase items from Iraq, without paying more than a few cents in transaction fees. It will spread democracy worldwide, creating a world currency which is out of reach from the strong hands of government organizations. Transaction fees are stifling growth and setting up barriers to trade. Bitcoin’s fee schedule is not counterproductive, allowing for anyone to buy from anyone else, without having to pay the 3%+ processing fees, and exchange rate fees that banks usually charge. If you want to pay someone a fraction of a cent, you can. This may eventually lead to an online economy which relies on micropayments to reward original content. The possibilities are endless.
3D printing, like Bitcoin, will democratize the economy as well, only in a different way. To the chagrin of manufacturers, as well as employees of manufacturers, 3D printing will change the way people buy things. We are all so used to running to Walmart to pick up a new toothbrush, or to buy a new set of dinnerware, but this will all change in the next 10-15 years. Instead of running out to the store, or jumping on Amazon.com to purchase a product, you will simply log onto your computer, pick out an item you want from an online shop, and 3D print it from the comfort of your own home. Within minutes, that product will be ready to use. We are still about a decade away from having the technology that will enable consumer based printers to have the speed, material choices, and price that will make this all possible, but we are well on that path.
Now, when you combine the changes that Bitcoin will usher in, with 3d Printing’s nearly endless possibilities, you have the perfect setup for a near perfect economic model. Prices for everyday items will fall at a staggering pace, while those transaction fee to purchase them will as well. “Scarcity,” will be a term seldom used among us, as there will be less middlemen, if any at all, involved in your purchases. Unfortunately this also means jobs will be cut. Instead of assembly line workers, you will have designers working from home, and instead of banks dictating our economic choices to us, we will be dictating to them how they should be managing out money. We are living in very exciting time, a time period which will see more change in 15 years than we have seen in the last 100, a time when technology will usher in a massive economic paradigm shift, one which will put us all in control of our own lives. It will not occur tomorrow, or even in a couple years, but the gradual change will follow an exponential curve so that in a decade from now, one or two months could make a huge impact on an economy. There won’t be smooth sailing the entire way, and unforeseen circumstances will spout up, however we will figure out ways to continue on the path of freedom, and a democratization of our economic values.
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