Oberlin Interview

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Date: 11. January 2011
Source: http://blog.opensourceecology.org/2011/01/oberlin-videos/

The GVCS, a basic set of tools for all the needs a civilization might have to provide its food, housing, energy, the entire infrastructure for living and thriving from local resources.

  • What is Open Source Ecology?

Open Source Ecology is based on the Open Source movement which is translated into Open Source Hardware development, but the concept is about Open Collaborative Development of various critical infrastructures of society in order to make harmonious co-existence between humans and nature. Open Source works essential in the fact that you are creating distributive economic systems. Instead of only few people benefiting from the inventions of building upon all that society has learned to date. Every invention is simply a little addition, typically, on a large pool of knowledge that is already there in society. So in today's society we like to appropriate that and claim it as our own, which objectively speaking can be considered quite arrogant because we are already using all these stuff that came before us. So, Open Source refers to an Open Development System where instead of patenting we are publish for everybody's benefit, not just for our benefit, but for everybody, to the point that we create a truly free enterprise, a place where people can compete on an even playing field, because there is no generation of monopolies by artificial protection mechanisms.

  • What is flexible fabrication or distributed manufacturing?

Flexible fabrication, for that the general scenario here is that, imagine what would happen if we had a global repository of designs of just about anything. And we are talking about, not about some trash products that everyone is trying to push on you, but state of art example, just the best practices for everything. Like what's the best practice for a car, tractor, renewable energy equipment and fabrication equipment, and everything. Imagine we could access to all the blueprints for that and then we can manufacture that locally because you can share that over the Internet, not only that, you can share a computer-aided manufacturing files which can be used with computer controlled fabrication equipment, from CNC, that stands for Computer Numerical Control, CNC milling, lathing, CNC torch table, circuit fabrication, all those kinds of files can be shared globally for local production. So imagine a setting where the whole world can collaborate using the best practices and a fabrication can return to the local communities instead of being send over to remote places. So that's the concept of flexible fabrication.

  • What are some examples of how Open Source Ecology could work?

Our package relies on 100% on solar energy, whether that is solar concentrator for electrical power generation, or bio pelletized biomass fuels for powering engines or other devices. Our package promotes a 100% closed loop carbon cycle. In that itself, we are addressing the climate change issues because we are not putting any new carbon into the atmosphere, we are harvesting plants which are then burned, if we are talking about pelletized biomass. And then the plants take this carbon out again, so it is a fully closed, environmentally conscious way to generate power, which is one of the key issues in society. We are working on a whole range of things from food, energy, housing, agriculture, production, renewable energy and fuels, just about anything. To date, we have only one full product release that is the Compressed Earth Brick Press, which is a fully automatic machine which can produce about 16 bricks per minute, and right now we are working on full product release of an open source tractor combined with a soil pulverizer, so that package together can work for an effective construction with the CEB Press, that producing building material and the tractor providing mechanical power or for systems like agriculture. Those are near term tools, there is many in there, up to induction furnaces, combines, cars, bulldozers and a fabrication equipment, robotic arms and even aluminum extraction from clay on the local level. Just 50 different technologies that are pretty important, economically significant means of producing the things we need to live.

  • Where will be the base materials for localized fabrication originate?

What we propose is a whole tool chain that allows you to start with scrap metal resources, like steel and other metals, melt them down with an induction furnace, followed by process such as casting, forging, rolling, and with that you can generate virgin steel. Then you can precision machine it with things like CNC, lathing, milling, you can do CNC torch tables for cutting. So you have the means to start from scrap, going virgin metal, precision machine it, and then on top of that you've got other fabrication means like 3D printing, 3D scanning which can then be fed back into the system to reproduce the same machines. And then of course I've got things like welding, open source torch welder, laser cutter, another big one is an iron worker machine which allows you to cut and punch holes in thick metal and basic circuit fabrication with a CNC circuit mill. So basically, just about all the tools that we need there to start from scrap, work that into virgin metal, and then build things like tractors, cars, anything else that we have in the complete set. So, in this scenario we have the concept that the machines cannot only make products, but also the machines can make new replicas of those machines. For example the torch table that we've build is designed such that it can produce a copy of itself from the steel that you put on the top of the torch table to be cut. The replicator concept is big, like for example the RepRap, the 3D printer has already shown that a printer could print a set of its own plastic joint parts for itself. So the self-replication on the technological point is a big point for a low-cost reproduction and production of the technology base that we need.

  • Cultivating a new generation of "makers"

We are missing out, in terms of our absolute creative potential. And the nature of the Global Village Construction Set is to provide any tools of production, not only fabrication, but producing food, housing, energy, fuels, and quite other things. So that the wealth comes back to the people. People feel empowered about their environment and avoid the environmental degradation. Because the ultimate message is: technology should be a way for us to connect to nature. If we are using the local resources, relying much more on our immediate environments to provide all that we need, then we start to respect our environment much more. About reinventing culture, from the consumer culture to a culture of makers, where people are actually the producers, one more time, of their own environments as opposed to being dependent on whatever they buy at the store. Which is a totally empowering concept for anybody who sees that, like for myself, it would be the last thing if I would be to guess that I will be building tractors and compressed earth brick presses and other things like now. But for me personally I have figured out, that wow, we have this amazing productive capacity, right now it is being basically abused by this production system that is global and not really meeting needs, designed for obsolescence, lots of these problems, it is all about profit, not really human service. And people working longer and longer hours, well that's not what technology is supposed to be about. It is supposed to make our lives easier. So, personally I am engaged in this experiment of being a total maker in order to create my own environment, at much lower cost, so that I can ultimately be free, that's my goal.

See Also