The Center for Bits and Atoms (CBA) at MIT is doing many kinds of amazing work. One of their projects, Fab Labs, appeared in WorldChanging a month ago.
Fab Labs are great: use cheap desktop technology using local materials, to let people build what they need where they need it. And eventually, CBA intends to make them self-reproducing, with human help: a one-room economic revolution.
But CBA is doing far more than that. Their scope is astonishing. A must-read article by CBA's director describes how technology can transform a war zone--by giving people something better to do than fight. It describes how buildings can become networked without a network engineer. It explains CBA's progress toward a general theory of how to program nature: how to ask it questions in its native language, how to build awesomely complex systems.
Any one of these would be impressive. For all--and many more--to come out of one center is astonishing. They are not only developing the next generation of technology. They have the will--and the ability!--to use it for the benefit of humankind.
And, of course, this leads to the end of industrial capitalism, and the rise of information socialism...maybe. If we survive. If we don't panic.
Infosocialism: "From each according to his imagination, to each according to his needs," as Charlie Stross puts it...