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From Open Source Ecology's perspective, 2016 marks a turning point in the history of open source hardware development, when open source 3-dimenstional computer-aided design (CAD) for mechanical design became widely accessible. Specifically, FreeCAD v0.16 has been released as a practical solution for 3D design, getting to a stable release that OSE still uses in 2022 (in addition to newer versions of FreeCAD). OSE has developed a Merge Workflow which relies on many people collaborating on Part Libraries generated in FreeCAD.

The significance of open source 3D technical CAD becoming widely available is that large-scale, collaborative design of physical objects became possible. This opened the possibility of the conversion of the economy from proprietary to collaborative - the central mission embodied by OSE. How does CAD relate to the creation of a new type of economy? Physical products arise from CAD, and physical products are central to the economic system. Physical products are the basis for surviving and thriving, and the service economy of today is built upon natural resources that sustain life in the first place. The information age still relies on rocks, sunlight, plants, soil, and water etc - as the essential ingredients.

Because of the importance of physical infrastructures for sustaining life (ie, hardware - and specifically open hardware), this turning point is comparable in importance to:

  • 2010 - invention of realtime, cloud, collaborative documents for text and graphics by Google. This marked a turning point in history where collaborative creative work became possible for the first time - for unlimited numbers of people working in realtime on the same documents.
  • ~2000 - invention of the wiki. Specifically - Ward Cunningham, 1995. This is the first time when an unlimited number of peopled were enabled to contribute to creative writing (for example, creation of an online encyclopedia - Wikipedia), though not entirely in realtime.
  • 1991 - creation of Linux. The first time that collaborative tools were available for large-scale software collaboration (modular breakdown, mailing lists, version control leading to the creation of Git) which resulted in the creation of the most widely-adopted operating system in the world for computing devices. This was thus a formative moment for the Information Age.
  • 1234 - invention of the printing press in Korea [1] Gutenberg popularized the printing press in the 1400s. The promise of Time Binding has now been made accessible to the common man - ie, the ability to learn and evolve rapidly.
  • 3400 BC - invention of writing in Mesopotamia [2]


The next historical milestone to be reached in civilization is the actual conversion of the economy from proprietary to collaborative. That means, a world in which enterprises are no longer reinventing the wheel in product development while making generally-inferior products. Instead - a world is created where open collaboration allows enterprise to reach a new level of quality, effectiveness, and efficiency which allows for not only production to be addressed - but also environmental and social justice. That means that a world economy has been created in which distribution of wealth - not only its production - has been achieved. This will have solved the last unsolved issues of human economic systems - ie, distribution and regeneration.

We predict that major strides have been achieved to this goal by 2028, and another decade for a cascade of transformation throughout the first, second, third, and Fourth Worlds. Conditions have been set up where anyone has an option and opportunities to thrive. This takes us to 2038, a few years before the Singularity. This is consistent with the OSE notion that the Collaborative Singularity must precede the Singularity in order for continued human existence to be secured.