Prize Purpose

Why Constructors? What good are they, why is progress in this area worth encouraging, would a prize actually make a difference?

One of the requirements of making a submission for the prize is that it be released to the public. The specs of the hardware, the source code of the software, the text of the documentation be put under the creative commons license. No barriers of patent, copyright or license restriction to prevent anyone from a developing country from downloading, creating and using their own version of the system.

Adrian Bower of the RepRap project has written his thoughts on potential benefits

Much has been written about the implications of a cornucopia device, both from a social control perspective and from an economics of scarcity perspective.

In the short term, though, what concrete good will it do to speed up by five years the creation of a 90 % self-replicating and self-assembling device that reduces the price of such a devices by a factor of 10 or more?

Will it immediately end famine or open up exploration of the solar system? Probably not.

What it will do, in a matter of years, is improve the capitalist system by opening up competition. It is not uncommon for electrical good shops to charge 30 pounds for speaker cables that, when bought in bulk, cost the shop less than 1 pound. It will also unleash creativity and learning. Software has been much improved by the principle given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow. The same thing could happen to consumer hardware. Not everyone would have to design or customize their own fridge. It would be enough that some people out there do and will share, to provide an incentive for normal manufacturers to learn and improve.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? What do you think is important? What do you think would be the short and long term impact for 'the common man'. What is the killer application? What is the big selling point? What will catch people's imagination?

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