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European Visions for the Knowledge Age

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European Visions for the Knowledge Age

A Quest for New Horizons in the Information Society

Paul T Kidd (Ed)
ISBN 978-1-901864-08-3 (Paperback)
Price: See buy on-line link



Chapter 4
Micro Fabrication
Brahim Dahmani
Many things have been converted into a digital stream of data, and more will follow. Bits are everywhere! A bit (either a one or a zero) is the smallest unit of information handled by a computer. These are represented physically by a very small pulse of electricity sent through a circuit, or a small point on a magnetic surface that can change state to represent either one or zero. Bits convey little information of use to humans, but they can be manipulated by computers to present information in a way that is useful to people.

In the future, individuals will have at home, as attachments to internet broadband connections, not only entertaining audio-video equipment, but also micro fabrication systems. These will be able to generate three-dimensional objects as good as the ones bought in shops or delivered by express couriers such as DHL, UPS or Fedex.

This latter aspect is much less well documented, since there is still a trend to value much more the digital content and the intellectual part, than the objects and the hardware. These are considered as a degraded state, cumbersome, expensive to duplicate and heavy to transport. All the value is thought to be in the immaterial: in the bits. Atoms are seen to be remnants from the past: something to be eliminated if possible. This thinking has been very much developed and exemplified in Nicholas Negroponte's famous book entitled Being Digital [1]. Nevertheless people are not always listening to music, or watching movies coming from remote and often unknown locations. People still drive cars, wear clothes and eat food.

The conceptualisation of an object in the mind precedes its actual construction. This scheme will still be true in the information society. Smart objects will include not only intelligence in their embodiment, but also during conception, production and recycling.

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