TED Fellows Application

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This is Marcin Jakuobwski's TED Fellows application for 2011.

All responses are limited to 1500 characters (not words!) except where noted.

If a friend were to describe your accomplishments in up to three sentences, what would he or she say?

“He is building the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS) – a lifesize Lego set of open source tools for creating advanced civilization from local resources. He is doing this without a budget, and he is showing real results.” They have built prototypes of an open source tractor, CNC torch table, 150 ton metal hole puncher, microtractor, soil pulverizer, heavy duty drill press, and other substantial tools. They are funding their work entirely on crowd donations, including the “1000 True Fans – 1000 Global Villages” campaign. The project is entirely open source, and focuses on open business models for replication by any interested producer. Their work features radical modularity, and therefore, lifetime design. For example, LifeTrac, the open source tractor, has interchangeable “Power Cube” engine units, quick-connect motors and attachments. Several Power Cubes can be used for added power, or the Power Cube may be used on the open source car. Interchangeable motors can be used on other devices, such as a dril press or lathe, and the same Power Cube can power anything from the tractor, car, drill press, or hole puncher.

The cost is reduced to one tenth normal thanks to the savings from using open source software and hardware designs, and thanks to the systems design of module interchangeability. The components are essential to life and work in the system rather than just decorative knick knacks and are "designed for disassembly" so each component, like the Life Trac tractor for example, is easy to repair with bolts and simple tools such as wrenches, and easy to modify and improve.

What other achievements (not only academic) would you like to share?

P2P Foundation called our work 'the most important social experiment in the world.' We are a real experiment – at present aiming to demonstrate that with 5 skilled people – we can produce all of our food-fuel-energy-housing-technology needs for a comfortable lifestyle in a 2-hour per day work day. Our end-game is about a 200 person community, with the capacity to produce advanced civilization at the level of 1990's technology – including microchip fabrication - essentially from local resources. Our steps are one foot in front of the next. We just released our first Full Product Release – the high performance(16 bricks/minute), automated Compressed Earth Brick press, at 6x lower cost than the competition. We are doing essential work on a scalable, open source product development pipeline – a social platform for rapid deployment of economically-significant, open source technology – to opensource the world and transition to post-scarcity economies. So far we have shown that drastic cost reduction is feasible for large-ticket items, indicating that we can build a lifetime-design community infrastructure (food, energy, fuel production; flexible fabrication workshop) for about $50k, where the off-the-shelf equivalent would cost about ten times that amount. Furthermore, if we add an open source induction furnace to our technology package – we have proposed a model whereby communities can build their entire infrastructure essentially at the cost of scrap steel.

Beyond your work and studies, what are you passionate about? (hobbies, causes, activities, issues…)

I walk the talk, so there is no division between work and play in my life. I am a living experiment for demonstrating that an unprecedented quality of life can be attained by taking the responsibility to live on local resources, and that one can gain true liberation by appropriate choice of technology. This is merely a foundation for the infrastructure of a household, community – and therefore a world - that works. The goal is that humans tame technology towards true human service and lifetime use, not design-for-obsolescence slavery – such that we introduce a realistic option for increasing amounts of people to evolve to freedom.

Share an example of something you have been a part of (including created, led, or joined) that you consider unique, even if no one else does. Why do you think it is mould breaking? (Limit 2250 characters - not words!)

Our work involves advanced industrial economy in a box that can be deployed inexpensively anywhere in the world.

What questions should we have asked, but didn't? Please write them down and answer them! (in other words, tell us something about yourself that we don't know yet). (Limit 2250 characters - not words!)

Q1. The obvious omission is “how is your work worldchanging?' A: building advanced industrial economy in a box that can be deployed inexpensively anywhere in the world introduces a realistic possibility of the world transitioning to post-scarcity economies

Q2. How do you build an advanced civilization with only 40 tools? A: A subset of the tools involves RepLab – the open source, self-replicating, low-cost version of the Fab Lab. This would allow one to bootstrap to increasingly deep levels of technology – using downloadable open source plans – up to smelting of aluminum from clay (advanced civilization) and silicon from sand (digital age).

Can you share a memorable anecdote from your life that will give us a further sense of what makes you tick? My parents tell me that I could tie my own shoes when I was 2 years old. At 25 , in grad school in fusion physics, I asked a professor to explain a particular equation – stretching across half a page - describing a wave traveling through space. I asked where I could find this wave, or for a real example. He said, “It doesn't exist. I made it up.” At this point, the swindle of 'technological advancement' hit me – why are we not working on pressing world issues, and why do we have increasingly less free time when we have increasingly “advanced” technology? At 26, I have met a guy who introduced me to 'Lifestyle Engineering

How did you hear about the TED Fellows program?

Colleagues suggested to me that I should apply last year. After a personal invitation to apply from TED this year, and after a year of producing additional substance with our project, I decided to apply.