Chinese Open Source

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Chinese Open Source refers to a particular intellectual property model and method of product development used in China.

It refers to a non-proprietary consortium without a license (see No License) which does not generally document publically according to OSHWA standards. As such, the Chinese Open Source intellectual property model is wild and undefined. While blueprints are not published, they are shared within the consortium, and decent access is available to outsiders. NDAs and patents are typically not involved.

From the standpoint of OSE Specifications, the decentralization aspect is weak in terms of China remaining the materials supplier and assembler. A more distributive route would be where materials production and assembly/manufacturing is distributed as well.

As such, this is getting closer to a distributive economics when compared to pure proprietary development. However, without true open source documentation and distributed production, this model is limited. The Chinese production model, like standard models, suffers from overproduction coupled with poor lifecycle stewardship inherent in centralization.

There is a huge opportunity, however. Due to the volatility and undefined boundaries in Chinese Open Source - there is ample room for entrepreneurial innovation closer to OSE Specifications.

Specifically, a compromise may be made by using Chinese supply chains (which is already the case in America), while making the design open source and manufactured in a distributed fashion. If China is a supplier - this fits the interest of China, and it fits the interest of OSE Specifications (OSe Spec) to distribute production far and wide according to principles of authentic Distributive Enterprise. OSE Spec promotes Full Recursion, so the end game is a distributed economy. A balance of productive power globally is attained by a combination of innovative lifetime design, lifecycle stewardship (local microfactory-based Extreme Manufacturing) business models as promoted by OSE.

A meaningful collaboration could be struck if: Phase 1:

  1. China open sources a product (fully open design blueprints)
  2. Production engineering is redesigned for lifetime design, lifecycle stewardship, open source digital manufacturing facilities with built-in plastic and metal recycling infrastructures.
  3. Manufacturng occurs locally in an Extreme Manufacturing or Open Source Microfactory scenario

The identifiable risk lies in point 2. R&D towards distributed manufacturing is significant, and is a heavyweight undertaking for Chinese partners. This is because the R&D would have to happen up front if we want to do this right (Lifecycle Stewardship, local production)- otherwise we are just selling Cheap Chinese Shit and not really solving any wealth distribution problems. Thus, convincing funding partners on Point 2 is the challenge. One possible solution here is using a well-funded Incentive Challenge to support the endeavor.

It should be noted that unlike with Western producers - Point 1 is an option up front. Imagine going to GM with a request to open source their car. Can that happen? Possible, but not likely.

Lifecycle Stewardship

We need to emphasize the connection between local production and full lifecycle stewardship at a granular level. OSE proposes that the key to success of an open source production partnership with China must like in the supply chain remaining at the level of materials, not finished products. As such, aluminum, copper, steel, and plastic should be inported instead of electric motors. Nickel and iron should be imported for advanced nickel iron batteries, and solar hydrogen storage such as composite pressure vessels should be produced instead of batteries. Thus, knowledge is substituted for finished products.

This is key to lifecycle stewardship. It is not realistic to expect China to take back products at the end of their lifetime - due to the long distance transportation and logistics involved. Full lifecycle stewardship - however - is quite possible when the producer designs modularity, reuse, and recycling infrastructures into their product line. This is exactly the intent of OSE, and why we claim that environmental stewardship is not feasible without local production. To us, it is obvious that the environmentally friendly economy of the future will be local.

While importing from China may sound questionable from the standpoint of the local economy - we should look first for more local resources. However, it needs to be emphasized that once materials are imported - and reuse and recycling infrastructures are built in by design - then the raw resources retain their value and do not depreciate. This is because matter cannot be created or destroyed. Once raw resources are used up, they can be rushed or melted down to regenerate raw feedstock. Thus, any import has the potential to remain a permanent asset - as opposed to depleting the importer's wealth with time. Thus, a balance of trade can be attained, where material security is much greater. For this reason, open source know-how that enables regenerative value creation is indispensable - and it is unlikely that the current commercial-military economy will lead the way to such stewardship. We believe that unbridled access to knowledge - open source know-how - is the only possible route to get there. This would be a thorough rework of the current economy.


For the case of SZOIL - the opportunity is great for traditional production with undesirably low lifecycle stewardship. This is not the course that is consistent with the OSE mission. Attaining OSE Specifications would be much harder. Ways to inject OSE Spec must be included. If China is willing to collaborate openly on open-sourcing of designs, then OSE can commit to converting the production engineering to the Extreme Enterprise, distributed local production model. The model would be truly Distributive by design, under the auspices of a Distributed Quality Control Organization such as OSE.

The assumptions here are that increased localization of production favors lifecycle stewardship, in which case full lifecycle stewardship is possible only when the scale of material flows is reduced to the scale of a Global Village and its surrounding countryside. The surrounding countryside provides all resources required for thriving, under the assumption of Technological Recursion that makes material conversion from raw feedstocks to end-user goods feasible. See Bioregional.