Deliveries at the speed of life

You want it now, but are you really ready to pay the price for now?

Bad AI: Vibrant painting of a bewildered person carrying a stunning backpack.
"Really, all you need is a good backpack", says the traveller.

How much stuff do you really need?

I mean, seriously, how much of it do you actually need?

Enough to where you could do what you want at a moment’s notice?

Enough to where you can buy what you need at a moment’s notice?

How much planning are we putting off to others?

Is that convenience really worth it?

These are the questions that I want to address because we do now or soon will, have the ability to eliminate a lot of capitalistic waste.

What do I mean by capitalistic waste? Let me posit a thought:

As with most industries, there is no "one source" for any manufactured good. If it sells (and isn't otherwise IP protected) then you can bet that there are several other companies that are producing that good as well. These companies all want as large of a slice of the pie as they can possibly get, so they each work their own angle to entice the consumer in their direction. There are many different strategies for this in the world, but the main one is availability.

Most of the time, price yields to time. The quickest option wins. Whether that is by being closer to the consumer, or through sheer quantity, the result is the same. An overabundance of materials are produced in the hopes of maximizing profitability.

It's a smart strategy if I'm being honest. We're all only playing the game that we were born to play. And it's a very competitive game. Very few know that we can build another game based around cooperation. It's hard to look past the thrill of the win.

Yet still, what happens to all the extra t-shirts, fidget spinners, potatoes, cars, pencils, boxes, chemicals, etc. that aren't bought? Most of the time, they just get thrown away. Written off as a bad business decision and regarded as nothing more. There is no penalty for not selling all of your goods. Pay a little money to make it disappear, then start back over again. That is, unless you are out of money. Money can be quite the cure-all for bad decision making. Just pay someone else to deal with the consequences for you.

Excess in the pursuit of profit. It doesn't make for a very sustainable future. No wonder why most dystopian settings are so full of trash. No wonder why there is a country sized patch of trash in the ocean.

Bad AI: Night time, urban setting. Possibly a train?
Is it a hovercar, a train, a stylish roomba? Leave your suggestion in the comments below.

But that is the price that is paid for convenience. The convenience of quickly buying something exactly when you have the itch buy it.

So, let's see what we can do about that system and reframe it a little:

- First, let's remove profit as a motive. After all, a sustainable world isn't a profitable one.

- Next, people still need access to ~things~ (gestures vaguely). No doubt that access to goods is a major check mark on the checklist of deciding to buy something. Nobody likes to put a project on hold for a couple weeks when you can spend 30mins driving down to the store where they (hopefully) have it.

- After that, storage. The less room we spend storing the world's manufactured items, the more room that we have freed up for life.

- Last, quality. One well-built widget that is designed to last as long as possible, is worth an infinite amount of quick, cheap widgets that you throw out and replace once broken.

So where does that leave us?

Bad AI: I don't think I could describe this if I tried. Reminds me of one of those stroke pictures where everything seem familiar, but you just can't place it.
This both amazes me, frightens me, and leaves me a bit befuddled. 

There is a way to satisfy each framing viewpoint, and that is, if everyone has the ability to make what they need themselves. I'm talking along the lines of 3-D printing and/or other ways of automated design printing.

- First, without the concern for profit. Usability and robustness become the main characteristics that an item needs to have. Having the ability to openly source and build upon designs not only means that you should be able to quickly find and modify what you need to get the job done, but that innovation is likely to happen much quicker. Items will begin to be built with personalized customization in mind, and most of the time people will be able to build it themselves.

- Next, if you could spend a few hours "printing" what you need. Wouldn't that be preferred to going out of your way to get an item, or spending hours searching for just the right one? Load your file in the printer and make lunch, watch a movie, pull weeds out of the garden, take a nap, visit a friend’s house, do any number of things that you'd much rather be doing other than shopping.

- After that, if you can make what you want, when you want, then there isn't any reason to hoard materials (either within your own dwelling or that of a store). Small printers can easily be built into a living unit (and properly ventilated), and for more industrious needs, a larger "foundry" can be centrally located and shared by a community. There will be a need for storing raw materials and that will take up some room, but there will no longer be a need for five warehouses full of beds (you know, in case they happen to have the absolutely best bed for your sleeping needs).

- Last, nobody is going to waste their own resources to build something shoddy, on purpose. At least, I wouldn't, and couldn't imagine it'd be a very popular option. Well... maybe for gags, or because you want to gift a bad gift, maybe then. Maybe. But the main focus will be accomplishing the need and accomplishing it well. Holding on to ideas serves little use when profit is removed from the equation. Instead, ideas can be shared, or not shared, for attention. To conceal your advantage, or to be well known for your contribution. Either way, it's going to be built as well as it can be.

Bad AI: Looks like a person doing a stylish spin kick while in a recent street fighter game
Why is this here? I dunno. Just is. 

Will you be able to create everything this way? No, most likely not. There will be some things that are better done by hand or have complex manufacturing methods that will require complicated machinery and technique. Perhaps the need for bulk requires a dedicated processing facility. Or maybe not. Maybe we'll learn to do more with less. Ingenuity can be quite surprising where the opportunities exist and where we prioritize our conveniences and inconveniences. I'm sure it'll likely be some mixture of both.

Does this mean we will have to wait longer for what we need? Not necessarily. Depending on what you are crafting, time will vary. And we can always keep items "on the shelf" on our own shelves with just a little forethought and planning if they are necessary items. It does mean that we will be sacrificing the convenience of just throwing things away when they are not needed, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Just something that you are more aware of.

As an aside, I find that there is a lot of outward focus of finding the right object in today's system. It creates the dynamic that we are all searching for something else that complements ourselves just so. That we all have to find the pieces of ourselves and stick them together, instead of allowing them to organically grow from us. How can someone else know what is truly you? Know exactly how you'd like to define yourself? Are we not just putting ourselves into boxes by allowing others to define what those boxes are? Does that type of system naturally encourage segregation? I don't know. Something to ponder on for later. I do think that creating things for yourself is one of the best ways to get a better understanding of your self. And possibly learn to appreciate what makes everyone else unique.

Well, that = that. What's your take? Do you think it is feasible for everyone to have the convenience of printing what they need on demand? Do you think there are limits to this system that will need to be addressed? What do you think would be the best way for ideas and designs to spread? Always happy to hear other's opinions about topics like these. In any case, if you made it this far, have a great rest of your day and thanks for reading! :)