From inequality to environmental catastrophe, and almost every other major problem humans cause and suffer from, this one invention is the answer.
Our Earthly habitat is a closed system, which means there is only so much stuff in it. From the perspective of biological entities, that stuff is resources, the things we need to survive and progress. Some of that stuff is renewable, like crops for food and medicine, but some of it is limited to what is already here outside of human intervention, like fossil fuels and the rare Earth minerals and metals that our modern technology requires. And even with renewable resources there may distribution problems that increase the cost of using the resource. Many of us eat bananas that could not possibly grow anywhere near where we live, making the cost of a banana include the cost of transportation, not to mention the habitat it was grown in. The limitations regarding the amount and distribution of resources is often referred to as scarcity.
It just so happens that scarcity is the source of almost all of our problems, and also the source of those which we impose on the rest of the living beings that we share this planet with.
Global climate change is a clear example of this. Our manufacturing and transportation processes have a profound effect on our atmosphere. Fueling mechanical processes that we rely on to create and distribute modern goods unleashes a chemical transformation that can be toxic to life and/or change the nature of the atmosphere in ways that make our habitat inhospitable.
Even if we allow that the current climate change was not caused by humans, it will still quite soon create problems which disrupt our resources and their distribution. And at some point mining our resources from the earth is not going to be enough to support a large, modern human civilization. Regardless of what you believe is causing our climate to rapidly evolve, it should be clear that it will make our existence as-is unsustainable at some point in the future.
It is not so much a change in the weather that threatens us as it is the limitations placed on us by scarcity, which will make current methods of maintaining a technological civilization difficult or obsolete as our habitat changes. To overcome those problems we need to be looking at how to overcome scarcity itself.
Another obvious issue which scarcity has led to is inequality. When there are a limited number or resources, or a survival advantage in monopolizing them, inequality is sure to follow.
This is the reason that animals become territorial, to protect their hunting/foraging territory to ensure their survival and spur their growth and progress. The human animal is no exception. Nations, corporations and all of the rest of our hierarchical structures are working from the same territorial politics as lions, tigers and bears. However because our territorial structures themselves are more complex, they also have a greater impact on individuals and the environment. International warfare and the prison industrial complex are both consequences of this complexity, as are most political and social issues.
While it can be argued that we can optimize how we use and distribute resources to conquer this problem on a practical level, it does nothing to alleviate it on a psychological level. Having evolved in a habitat and civilization ruled by the limits of scarcity, we have developed oddities like greed and non-adaptive aggression, which drive inequality. The pressure of living according to these limits provided by scarcity has introduced psychological components which are not conducive to optimal human relations and well-being, nor even our own long term survival.
We are seeing the effects of this psychological stress escalate in alarming things like public mass murder, but also in everyday life as the general hostility that too easily flows between us along the lines of politics, race, sexuality, gender and every other issue in which our disagreement has become intolerance. Even our bigotry has its roots in scarcity and the psychology it informs. Perhaps the most worrisome outcome is that this stress causes us to lose our humanity, if not our lives.
Pick almost any issue and as you uncover its roots you will find the practical and psychological underpinnings are related to scarcity in some way. However there is hope to be gleaned from this, because if all of our problems have nearly a single source, then they also have a single solution — solve scarcity.
Our species is defined by its invention and usage of increasingly advanced technologies over time, and that is where we must look to meet the challenge of scarcity. Through technology we disproved almost every naysayer throughout history. Those who believe that something is impossible for human beings to accomplish are those we look back at with laughter, often using some kind of novel technological device. So unless you have aspirations to be a future punchline, try not to be too cynical as we carry on here.
The solution to scarcity, and almost all of our problems, is replicator technology. If the concept is unfamiliar to you I won’t bother repeating it in Klingon.
Right now you are surrounded by latent energy, which is energy that is possible for us to use if we knew how to harness it. Just as we once learned to harness the energy of fire, wind, water, etc. — it seems reasonable we will eventually learn to use the latent energy that exists in every square inch of the universe.
Matter, the stuff that our resources are made of, is merely an expression of energy. If we can learn to harness latent energy and direct it into the desired forms of matter and goods, then we will no longer be dependent on the environment to provide for us. We will create everything we need, when and where we need it, from essentially nothing. No cost to each other, nor the environment. We will make all forms of dependence obsolete and become completely self-sufficient individuals.
All we have to do is create that one thing, the latent energy-to-matter converter and pattern replicator, and nearly all of our problems are solved. And since you can make the parts for a replicator with a replicator, we can manufacture and distribute them at a lower cost than our current socio-economic and political systems allow.
Herein lies the one danger, that those afflicted with the psychological stress of scarcity in the form of greed and aggression will not want to solve the problem, because they cannot see it as a problem. They are addicted to their privilege and advantage in ways that blind them to what must be done for even their own good.
This is why the desire for replicator technology must become the foremost cause of all the rest of us. We cannot wait for governments or corporations to provide us the technology. We must inspire each other towards its invention, and figure out how we will distribute them independently with the most efficiency. The replicator should come up in every conversation and become the focus of all of our ambitions. We must want it so bad that it becomes impossible to not get it.
The technology is already close, which even NASA admitted a few years ago. Numerous current technologies are harbingers of it, from 3D printers to technology which extracts carbon from the atmosphere and converts it to edible proteins. The question is not if we will have replicators, but how soon, and whether or not they will be monopolized by small portion of humans. We must make sure that monopolization does not happen, lest a solution becomes a new problem.
Most of our lives are ruled by compulsory behaviors. Schooling and jobs are a necessity of our current predicament. But these lead to forced cooperation, which engenders bitterness and entitlement. The replicator allows complete self-sufficiency in such a way that we can focus our activities and cooperation on that which brings us happiness and personal fulfillment. This is why it is important that we all have our own replicators, and are not dependent on others for their usage. The psychological burden is corrected by our liberation from hierarchies and compulsory interdependence.
And it is not just good for humans, but for all those other living beings who pay the cost of our survival, especially those we farm for food. You need not kill a cow to get real beef if you got the technology to arrange molecules in the same pattern. Nor must you birth millions of cattle whose flatulence pollutes the air we breath.
This is where we have been heading ever since we began using technology and language. The Something-For-Nothing trope that lies within every mythology, religion and human belief system has been suggesting this, and prodding us towards it. From water-to-wine and the big bang, almost every major human story is essentially a story about gaining the ability to create something-from-nothing. We have collectively expressed manifestations of this goal for as far back as we can look, and the replicator will be its fulfillment. Whether or not you believe in such a thing, it would appear that this is our destiny. The alternative is that we have been living one big meaningless lie and will eventually collapse under it.
You may not have the skills or even desire to invent the replicator and figure out how to get them to everyone, but the one thing we all have within our power to do is not shut up about it until it happens. Share this article, discuss it with your friends. Write your own about it. Weave the replicator into all of your conversations, your artwork, your lessons, your sermons, etc. If we make post-scarcity technology the focus of our desires, dreams and goals then it’s realization will become all-but inevitable. Fan the flames of imagination to ignite a self-fulfilling prophecy that improves the life of every person who is or will ever be. What else have you got better to do?