In “The Architectural Model of Self-Replicating Machines”, I defined the ultimate self-replicating machine as a guide for understanding and development. That is, to be able to move arbitrary matter and energy to any point in three dimensional space. Because naturally, once a machine has the ability to do whatever it wants with its own internals and any material in it’s reach, it can build whatever it wants, including copies of itself. One can think of it as a matter and energy processor, with stuff going in, and stuff going out.
If we translate this ideal into physical machines, we could imagine owning such machines would be similar economically to owning an orchard of trees, the fruit of which could be anything desired, including commercial and industrial goods, or more of itself. Such a “giving tree” would naturally also be the ultimate form of economic capital, because of the unlimited nature of wealth that it can provide.
While the ideal machine is quite likely impossible to build, it is certainly possible to make machines that approach those qualities in one way or another. This means that at least in theory, as a machines abilities increase towards that of the ultimate self-replicating machine, so does the machines potential profitability increase as well. This principle can lead to some very interesting results.
This means that we have the theoretical evidence that developing self-replicating machines is in principle a lucrative field of research.
In order to maximize the potential of any research, profitability should be a design consideration from the beginning.
Profit can be the positive feedback-loop that will drive an evolutionary type of development of self-replicating machines.
Applying the profitability principle of self-replicating machines to all the diverse fields of human endeavour is an area of study with enormous potential. I imagine every other economic activity can be re-imagined with this principle in mind. The business opportunities are potentially staggering. Think of all the millionaires who profited from taking old ways of doing things, and patenting the idea of “doing it on a computer”.
Even small improvements can have a huge synergistic effects. Because the goal is convergence on an ideal machine, it’s possible to have vast, system-wide improvements. There can exist a new level of standardization and efficiency. For example, settling on standard ways of moving things about in 3d space in a factory can easily result in more interoperability between factories. This could allow dramatic things such as dynamically re-organizing assembly lines as new production machinery becomes available. More on this later.
Of course, people have been improving usefulness and efficiency, and subsequently decreasing the need for manual labour since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The difference with Profitability Principle is that it becomes an explicit conscious push towards self-replicating abilities. If used commonly in the planning stages of industrial and commercial ventures, this principle has the potential to dramatically increase profit and economic development in a much more geometric fashion.
In the short term, what this means for my work is that any prototypes I design should have profitability in mind, and indeed, they do.