FabLabs are pretty damn worldchanging, and we've been swooning about them since first wrote them up last September. $20,000 gets the future in a box: a self-contained facility with tools to build just about anything (anything bigger than a microchip, that is). The MIT Fab Lab program has already deployed six Fab Labs around the world, in a poor part of Boston, in Norway (with some of Europe's last remaining nomadic people), in Costa Rica, in Ghana, and two in India; a Fab Lab in South Africa is coming soon. The Economist has a brief but interesting story about Fab Labs this week, noting that the World Bank has been leery to underwrite purchases of Fab Lab equipment in the developing world, calling it too "speculative." We prefer to think of it not as speculation, but as foresight.
Dr. Neil Gershenfeld heads up the Fab Lab project, and has just finished a book on it. He'll be dropping by the Bay Area Future Salon on Friday April 15. While that's terrific for those of us in the SF area, if you can't make it in person, don't despair: a real-time Internet Relay Chat session will be transcribing the talk, and there will be a Quicktime webcast available, as well. This will definitely be a talk not to miss.
It was actually you guys who pointed me to Neil Gershenfeld and his Fab-u-Labs work.
If everything works out SAP will put farm out the video stream, so we hope that everyone who wants to can actually watch it and ask questions via the IRC channel.
I am so happy and looking forward to the event.
You are changing the world, Mark.
This is fascinating and hopeful. It would be great to learn more about the energy and material requirements of this approach - not the theoretical, maybe-someday ones, but the right-now ones. This looks wonderful, IF:
- it helps "democratize" value-added manufacturing/craft;
- it reduces the waste of raw materials in fabrication;
- it reduces the waste of energy in fabrication;
and the power requirement is small enough to be within reach of those it intends to help.
Could anyone provide more information about this? Thanks!