PICNIC07: The revolution in personal fabrication, Neil Gershenfeld

Fablabs: in between the large digital fabricators at MIT, and the personal fabricators we will have in 20 years time. Costs less to send the means to create objects, than it does to send the objects themselves.

Shows $10m chip fab: fundamentally it spreads stuff around and bakes it. Contrast with the ribosome: assembler of amino acids, basically a digital machine. Shows a computer made from bubbles in fluid. Bits are carrying information, but also material. What's a digital revolution? Adding digitisation to phone systems (by Shannon) improved them. Von Neumann did the same for computers in the 50s; for old analog machines, the longer you ran them the worse an answer you got. Chip fabs are still fundamentally analogue. Not a computer connected to a tool, they should be the tool: bringing the programmability of the digital world to the physical world.

Started a class at MIT: How to make (almost) anything.

Shows off ScreamBody.

"Animals are underserved for their IT needs": Interpet explorer.

In a world of personal fabrication, you create technology for yourself, not for mass production.

Fablabs are a hack, they're not the real thing. Shows K&R with a PDP: the moment computer systems went timesharing. The Fablabs today are a PDP - at the time everything was anarchic and the PDP was in the middle of this mess; right now we're at the start of an era, with the labs getting faster, cheaper, and better.

Fablabs don't fit into current organisational structures: e.g. the Pentagon love this from a hearts and minds perspective, but they don't have an office to do tech research that doesn't involve blowing things up. "Anyone being able to make anything, anywhere breaks everyones organisational boundaries".