How to Print a Building (The Coming Real Estate Revolution)

Printing A Building

Imagine you want to build a new house or office building.  In the past, you would have had to hire an architect, a contractor, a construction company…The entire process would take months – if not years – and construction delays were the name of the game.

A man named Enrico Dini is not only about to revolutionize the way we build houses and office buildings – his technology could potentially cause the largest economic revolution in human history.

Inspired by Gaudi’s architecture, he became a Civil Engineer and, later, began building machines.  Yet he soon found that his imagination was constrained by the physical limits of modern construction techniques.  Concrete and brick buildings require a certain degree of logistics and manpower, and human engineering errors are often  rampant.

Tired of these physical constraints, Enrico invented and patented a full-scale 3D printing method that uses a high-tech glue to bind sand.  Enrico’s general concept is fairly similar, however: The printer is installed at the construction site, and using a 3D blueprint designed by the architect, it systematically “prints out” a building.

Dini's Printer

And get this: the 3D printer could soon also be able to print more 3D printers.  His company, Shapeways, is already planning a full-scale sculpture in Pisa, Italy. So in other words, this is all actually happening.

Enrico is only one of many emerging visionaries working on Earth-sculpting technologies.  Markus Kayser, who studied 3D Furniture and Product Design at London Metropolitan University, is working on another exciting and revolutionary technology. His newest invention, The Sun Cutter, is a solar powered machine that converts sand into glass-like sctructures. In a world increasingly worried about energy production and shortages of raw materials, the Sun Cutter could be installed in a barren desert to build entire structures – all by itself.  This would be hugely important for developing nations or refugees left homeless from a natural disaster.

The Sun Cutter

Once these technologies are refined and begin to enter the marketplace, entire economic models will have to be rewritten.  What will we do with millions of suddenly-unemployed construction workers when machines effectively render them obsolete? This dilemma requires our immediate attention, as it stretches far beyond the worlds of construction and real estate. As more and more human jobs are replaced by technology, the unemployed masses and the world leaders governing them will most likely be ill-prepared for such changes. The economic fallout could be disastrous.

But there is hope. Companies like Organovo are already printing human organs, and even food-printing technologies are next on the horizon.  With these new technologies, the would would have enough infrastructure and natural resources to provide billions a quality of life on-par with the United States. The transition towards a post-scarcity society has begun, wether governments and multi-national corporations like it or not.

To sum it all up, the gap between human imagination and the physical world is shrinking. As the architects become the builders, together we could build a utopia from our collective dreams.  And as Enrico builds his modern day Tower of Pisa, hopefully we will all take a moment to remember that every building needs a strong foundation.

We Will Either Live Forever or Be Killed By Robots In…”The Singularity”

We are living during a very important time. It is a time in which time itself seems to be speeding up. It is also a time in which the prospect of being able to prevent our own death is becoming feasible. Intrigued? You should be – something called The Singularity may render you immortal.

The Map Of The Internet


Early Multi-Cellular Life

At the dawn of life on this planet, evolutionary changes happened slow. Billions of years slow. One microbe took billions of years to evolve the DNA necessary to replicate itself from simple amino acids. But that first copying mechanism, DNA, allowed information to be transmitted that much faster. Then, evolution only took millions of years to create multi-cellular creatures. Good information was kept, and bad information was discarded. The wheel of time continued until evolution presented the planet Earth with a new species – human beings. Except this species was different – this was the first intelligence on the planet.

This is where the evolutionary process of life really began to accelerate. Instead of millions of years to the next paradigm shift, it was only 50,000 years until Man began to talk. And then, only 10,000 to develop agriculture, written language, society, and government. Another 5,000 elapsed, and we had constructed Pyramids, developed theological and monetary systems, and had begun colonizing the planet. This led to the development of Science a few thousand years later. Science, after a few mere centuries, gave rise to the Industrial Revolution, which after only 50 years gave us the Computer Revolution. Notice the trend? Evolution is a feedback loop.

“Moore’s law describes a long-term trend in the history of computing hardware, in which the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years.”

When Moore made this prediction at CalTech in the 1970’s, computers were the size of buildings. Now one fits in your pocket, and a particle accelerator in CERN is capable of achieving the coldest temperature in the universe and a magnetic field thousands of times more powerful than the Earth’s- all to find the God Particle that allowed the universe to be created. Forty years ago a machine that sized could barely run Pong.

This is only the beginning, however – imagine the things we will achieve with computers the size of red-blood cells floating inside the body. Nanobots will soon be integrating themselves into our biological structure, repairing broken synapses in the brain, cleaning out arteries and creating a virtual-reality interface within your visual cortex. Don’t believe me? Ask Ray Kurzweil, who this year co-founded the Singularity University in Palo Alto with Google and NASA. Their sole mission is to create a human-computer hybrid that will allow us to live forever.

Why a hybrid? Why not simply create a smarter-than-human computer and have it solve all our problems? Because that computer might decide that keeping us humans on Planet Earth would hinder its own progress in evolution – that we pose a threat to its survival. Or, the computer might even convert the entire solar system into a bigger version of itself to solve the problem. In Isaac Asimov’s “The Last Question”, scientists keep building bigger and bigger computers; while constantly asking the meaning of life. It is not until the very end, when, after the entire universe has been converted into a computer that the final answer is given.

The UN even recently passed a law banning “self-replicating nanobots” to prevent the planet from being covered in a “gray goo” of robotic microbes. This only supports how real this is all becoming. Six years ago, Facebook was being invented. Now, 500 million people have moved parts of their lives “online”, and could not imagine life without it. Ten years ago, cell phones and laptops were only just becoming commonplace within the societal lexicon. Now, having a desktop or even laptop computer is viewed as being a nuisance and hassle. In the next ten years, however, the change will be faster. We know this because it’s been speeding up this entire time.

Every day, more things happen than the day before- because today we have better tools for communicating, working, living, and replicating information than we did yesterday. The move from analog to digital will be almost too gradual to notice, but one thing is certain: Humanity is uploading itself onto the internet, which now appears to have turned Planet Earth into a collective brain; every human being a neuron in the system. This collective brain will soon abandon the mortal problems we face today, but it will face problems on a universal scale. Like how to prevent its collapsing, parent star from dying, how to exist in multiple dimensions, or even how to better allocate intelligence throughout the universe.

Maybe then it will even send out tiny seeds to land on distant planets…just like the amino acids that landed on Earth.