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Imagine it. I've invented the single greatest thing since Fire. A machine that can turn matter into energy and energy into matter with almost absolute efficiency. Sure, it violates a couple of the laws of thermodynamics and yes, you can get around a couple of conservation laws, but it's otherwise perfect, and comes with one of the most elegant software design suites ever designed (courtesy of my genius, of course). I can make anything, copy anything or turn anything into a huge amount of energy using my wonderful device.

Of course, I need to stop the government from discovering I have such a device, lest humanity accidentally destroy itself, and I need money to buy land, employ people and develop more technologies. To that end I shall pose as a humble waste processing company executive (If you have an idea for job choice feel free to include it), taking rubbish and waste materials and 'extracting' valuable metals and energy to sell to the grid from the 'burnt' waste.

My ability to transmute matter must remain hidden until I want to reveal it while still being useful for making money, so just sucking in a few tonnes of air and transmuting it into gold (which I then have to sell, which is awkward) isn't an option. Neither is counterfeiting millions of small bills and paying them in to the bank.

The goal here is to establish a power base from which it will be possible (and this is going to come up in later questions) to introduce this technology in a way that won't lead to humanity annihilating itself. I'm not worried about timescale (though sooner would be better, I don't want to die of old age before my plans come to fruition) and I need my company to be large (and wealthy) enough that further actions (such as buying tech startups and paying scientists) doesn't raise any suspicions. Don't worry about what happens once the company gets to this point.

What are the major problems that I will have to contend with from a non-scientific point of view? Assume my massive intellect can take care of the science!

For example: Will taxation catch me out? How can/Should I conceal my activities from my employees? Should I be worried about crashing the global markets?

A quick note on the machine. To transmute matter in an area it must be entirely enclosed by a transmutative field. This could potentially be achieved using mobile emitters to spread the field out. I'm not sure if this will affect anyone's answer. It can also be used to 'scan' items within this field (essentially transmuting them into themselves and storing the information about their structure)

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    $\begingroup$ Gene Roddenberry beat you to it. $\endgroup$ – WGroleau Jul 10 '17 at 15:33

27 Answers 27

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So, you are planning a rapid rise to power and wealth without it being so conspicuous that you draw attention from the people that could discover your secret. Should be easy for someone of your genius, right?

Your primary challenge is that whichever "industry" you use for a cover, you absolutely will draw the attention of competitors in that area. The more powerful and established they are, the more they can and will do to investigate, infiltrate, block and hurt you.

Let's use a terrible plan to illustrate some of the considerations for your plan. This is how NOT to do it:

Producing Aluminium from ore is a very wasteful and energy-intensive process. Your machine does it way better, you so "rescue" a bankrupt company and start converting ore into Aluminium and selling it a low prices, undercutting all the competition.

This will fail quickly as there are only a handful of big producers across the world, who all use roughly the same process and get their ore at a number of known suppliers. They know exactly how much ore you should be buying, how much electricity, etc. When they contact your suppliers to find out how much better of a deal you made, they find out you're not buying that much ore, or electricity. They will suspect you're actually selling ill-gotten Aluminium, either stolen or from a country under embargo. This ensures a government investigation and that's it. Game over.

Turning that situation around, here are the things to aim for when selecting an industry:

  • It should be hard to trace or measure the input resources for your products
  • Government regulation (environmental, licensing) is light or easy to subvert
  • There are no too-dominant parties barring your entry.
  • It is possible to have multiple smaller operations
  • Large profits are the norm, so that yours will not attract undue attention

These goals are impossible to achieve all at once, so you need to go through several phases.

Startup phase

The assumption here is that you have a small capital, either pre-existing or generated through the machine, but no power/influence to exert. You need to stay under everyone's radar and in one place.

The waste processing plant is an excellent start:

  • Your machine can masquerade as an new type of incinerator
  • You get paid to collect many different kinds of waste of uncertain composition
  • You can cheaply dispose of even highly polluted waste, coming up clean on any inspection.
  • You can sell higher volumes of "recycled" materials than you collect as that's very hard to trace or prove

Expansion

As soon as you have some positive business results, you use these to expand by getting a big loan or finding investors. Basically, the way every other business might do it. Don't just build identical plants, go for related businesses. Cleaning up polluted sites, "upgrading" your recycled materials to prime quality. If it looks like it takes a whole big messy factory to achieve those, all the better. Make a lot of noise about how you are cleverly combining processes to conserve energy and protect the environment, etc.

The more related businesses you have and the more they buy and sell from each other, the easier it will be to extract money from them in a kind of reverse laundering of money. Rather than making ill-gotten money appear legitimately on company balances, you are going to make it disappear so you can spend it in different ways.

Note: Buy up a robotics company and a mining company. You will need these later.

Going global

At some point, going international will be your best course, as it's much easier to evade scrutiny when no single authority can keep track of all parts of your operation. You will want to either select a country with a weak government (Africa) or mingle in with the biggest flows of trade (China->US/EU).

Let's be brave and go for a corrupt dictatorial (but stable) country in Africa. You will need a sizable amount of money for bribes, but once you get permission to build your factory, there is little risk of "oversight" beyond regular collections of more bribes/protection money.

You will want some combination of power-hungry industrial processes (let's say water desalination) and a "geothermal power plant". You sell water and electricity at cheap rates, building a good reputation with both the populace and the dictator, while secretly making a decent profit since you didn't actually sink all your money into drilling a well underneath your power plant.

Note: pay well for a small security force and have explosives ready near your machine. If the dictator decides to take your plant, blow it up and blame local extremists. Then offer to rebuild it if you are allowed to retain your own security force. The dictator will not risk a revolt by trying again.

Diversification

While by now you have a reputation, it should hopefully be of a tech-savvy philanthropist trying to clean up the world, rather than of a dictator-loving businessman making obscene profits. You can use this to expand your visible operations, but also start investing some of your hidden money through third parties into unrelated areas, so that you yourself don't become too conspicuous. Do this until you have a diverse range of income sources so that it's hard for any one opponent to shut you down.

Consolidation

Now it's time to return to the advanced countries and risk the wrath of the big industry players a bit more. You will want to create some dependence on your services/products.

Drinking water may work in the US, given the current drought in the southwest, but not nearly as well as in third world countries. In Europe it wouldn't do anything, but you would have an easier time entering the energy market, as there are more players and the energy industry is not as influential within the government as in the US. On top of that, you can set up factories in third world countries you are already established in and start shipping high-quality consumer products to the world, "buying" raw materials from your other businesses and using "robots" to minimize labor costs.

All this time you need to delay investigations and hold off hostile actions from competitors. Go on the offensive whenever you feel seriously threatened. Your machine can produce almost any evidence you need (obtain a tiny sample of the real incriminating material, copy a lot of it), but be extremely careful in placing it.

Revelation

You now are in a position to reveal your great invention, save humanity and create global peace in a new post-scarcity society.

Resistance

Unfortunately, the governments of the world are absolutely not interested in letting you do any of that, because you threaten the status quo too much. They call on you to surrender your machine to the UN and blueprints as well. Laws are quickly passed forbidding creation, possession and use of your machine. Fortunately, your third world dictator friends may be slower to react as long as you keep the money tap flowing.

All companies you publicly own are raided by the government agencies and competitors and after some close brushes with capture and/or death, you decide to you need a safer place.

Finale

You use the mining equipment and robotics tech acquired earlier to dig out a hidden base in a most unlikely location, a volcano for example. Your machine is now put to use duplicating an army of robots as you prepare to bring salvation to the people by force.

Not long after, your robot army is successful in capturing most capital cities in the world, and the world governments surrender to you one by one (France first). You declare yourself Ruler of the World and use your robot army to force the people to enjoy the benefits of your machine.

Resistance stays constant and costly as you clean up the planet, eliminate hunger, thirst and poverty and stabilize the climate.

Aftermath

You design a great interstellar spaceship using your machine and leave Earth forever, disgusted with the shortsighted, ungrateful creatures that humans are.

Okay, that last bit was not part of the question, I guess...

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    $\begingroup$ Well done! You've just answered almost all of a series of questions I'm going to ask. The answer to this particular one was everything before 'Going Global', so remember your answers for later! ;D $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 5 '15 at 15:55
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure that pacification is happens when you take away the food, water and electricity supplies of large groups of people. Generally what happens is known as 'civil unrest' $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 5 '15 at 17:11
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    $\begingroup$ The dependence I mention is not meant to use for direct blackmail, but rather as a deterrent to government intervention, as the politicians will hesitate to order something that makes them look like the ones to take away the water and electricity. Also, if you speak about power, you are a threat to a dictator. If you speak money, they are more likely to deal. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Nov 5 '15 at 18:45
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    $\begingroup$ The goal of the concealment is to prepare for a mostly peaceful way to spread the technology, minimizing destruction while also not losing control to some government that cannot be trusted to employ it for the good of all. Appearing out of nowhere with a robot army would fail miserably, as not just governments, but all 7 billion humans will rise to fight you. Instead, you need to build up a public reputation as a good, trustworthy person as well as enough of a network that the most powerful governments can't shut you down in one blow. We'll get to that in Joe Bloggs' follow up questions. $\endgroup$ – Cyrus Nov 7 '15 at 17:02
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    $\begingroup$ "France first". I laughed out loud. $\endgroup$ – roryok Nov 11 '15 at 9:53
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Initially, don't use your machine to create end products, use it to create raw materials that you sell to other companies. For example, buy or create a real platinum mine (or any other high-value naturally occurring commodity) and run it as a real mine. Employ real people doing real mining to obtain real product. Just supplement it with large quantities of synthesized product and introduce it into the supply chain. You can undercut the competition enough to corner the market quite quickly since, unlike your competition, you always seem to be able to find enough of the raw material to satisfy demand...

You don't have to flood the market with cheap product and in any case that would create suspicion since other mining companies would know that it would not be a sustainably profitable model- you just need to gently undercut and capture market share by being marginally cheaper and always able to meet demands. Customers would gravitate towards you and other mines would eventually die over time through being unable to compete, then you buy them as more "cover".

Repeat the model into other commodities, being careful to always employ people to actually obtain your natural raw material so that there is no suspicion about valuable raw materials springing into being. Repeat until your giant corporation controls the global commodity supply.

This might also appeal to your ecological philanthropy since you could, over time, ramp down the naturally occurring material, supplanting more and more of it with synthesized material, thereby conserving Earth's resources whilst simultaneously driving (or at least supporting) consumer expansion...

You still need some "flexible" accountants though :)

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    $\begingroup$ I would buy an old, almost depleted, diamond mine and then boost the production of small, industrial grade, diamonds. If you insert them between delving of the ore and the separation of the diamonds from the ore phase it would be next to untraceable. Even the miners won't notice because you can't really visibly spot these small rough diamonds in the ore. As Agent_L mentioned in his answer the Russians are suspected to do something like this, but proving anything is next to impossible. $\endgroup$ – Tonny Nov 5 '15 at 15:51
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    $\begingroup$ @MarvMills : Buying up failing competitors to create even more cover. Sneaky and more than a little underhanded. I like it. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 5 '15 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ Pretty much what I thought. Except that I don't think there is particular need to try undercut prices. You'll have better profit margins and that is more important than trying to get market share. Just use the profits for expansion. Also, since the machine can be use to produce energy, it can be used to boost power plants in a similar fashion. Solar or wind power make it fairly hard for outsiders to really notice that you produce more energy than the known power plants. I mean who is going to come and measure how much wind or sun shine your power plants get? $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Nov 5 '15 at 22:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Flambino True, but there is large natural variation that can be opaque to outsiders, if you want it to be. Your competitors can't really come into your mine and measure how good the ore is or how thick the vein is. Some mines are more profitable than others and it can, and will, change over time. $\endgroup$ – Ville Niemi Nov 5 '15 at 22:24
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    $\begingroup$ @MatthieuM. Sure, that'll work for a while. But everyone will wonder what you're doing, that they aren't. And if they can't figure it out, things get weird; everyone's got the same science (so they think), so what's going on? All I'm saying is that commodities markets are usually staid: They are not disrupted easily - and if they are, everyone catches up quickly or sinks. Meanwhile, take a business like Enron, which was so insanely complex that almost nobody realized they weren't actually making any money - until it all came crashing down, of course. $\endgroup$ – Flambino Nov 6 '15 at 8:44
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Skip building wealth

Rather than making yourself wealthy. Why not skip the wealth building phase and go straight into your real objective.

After all, your machine can make pretty much anything you need. What do you need money for?

Provide services

For instance, your device could be used as the energy production for an exceedingly powerful rocket engine.

Build yourself a spaceship and leave the Earth. It will make you quite safe from the prying eyes of investigators. When in space, your machine can make everything you need. You can form a colony.

Sell space in your colony (or hotel) to wanna be astronauts. Now you are earning money completely legally. Government agencies will think all of your money is going to pay for your rocket but your actual launch costs could be minuscule compared to conventional launchers.

Or go into environmental clean up. Shovel oil polluted sand in -> get clean sand & energy out.

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    $\begingroup$ "Oh yeah? Well I'm going to make my own planet. With blackjack, and hookers." $\endgroup$ – Agent_L Nov 5 '15 at 20:27
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    $\begingroup$ This is good. The easiest way to secure your invention is to keep it out of reach, and there isn't really anywhere more expensive to go than space. $\endgroup$ – timuzhti Nov 6 '15 at 4:12
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    $\begingroup$ That was my thought too. One reason why a space colony would be so difficult to set up is that it would be difficult to manufacture all the goods to stay alive. With this handy little machine, you've got that problem fixed. So you set up a colony far away from the reach of everyone else and, you are the only one that can do it. $\endgroup$ – Jim2B Nov 6 '15 at 4:15
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah. The major problem in space is limited materials and need to recycle... stay close enough to a star - or bring nuclear energy with you - and that 'unlimited' energy because unlimited stuff. $\endgroup$ – WernerCD Nov 6 '15 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ I would rather build base on moon with this machine. I could convert rocks into air, water, food, computers... you name it. All I would need for start would be shovel, machine and a spacesuit. $\endgroup$ – Tomáš Zato Mar 18 '16 at 10:32
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You're on the right track. Disguise your invention as a smaller invention that fit the following criteria:

  • Improves lives.
  • Has minimal direct competition

So for example, you could disguise your machine as a cold fusion plant. But that's hugely high profile invention, and there are a lot of energy producers who would be extremely interested in it. So it's likely that you'd be quickly exposed and your machine stolen and reverse engineered.

Your idea of waste processing is solid, but keep in mind that it's also a heavily regulated industry - and for good reason. That means you'll be subject to a great deal of scrutiny and testing. Additionally, because you're handling toxic wastes the workers will need greater access to the machine.

I think a better option would be Desalination. Water scarcity is a huge deal in much of the world, and it leads to lots of human and environmental suffering. You can repurpose your machine as a device that efficiently converts salt water to drinkable in bulk. This is a huge deal, and would make you boatloads of money quickly while generating lots of positive press and global good will. Best of all it's probably not something that would be heavily regulated - as long as the output passes some basic testing, you're solid.

Handling problems:

  • Claim it as a Trade Secret. Do not patent.
  • Set up the build process in an assembly line format so that no single person has any idea what's being created. Make it overly complicated - extra components that are misleading and don't actually do anything, for example. Have robots that you personally oversee handle the final assembly. Heavily audit the process, be extremely careful about components being marked as "failed" - you don't want someone to somehow get samples.
  • The device itself should be a black box. Salt water comes in, fresh water comes out. Make sure that the operation is extraordinarily simple.
  • Don't make it perfect. Presumably a real device like this wouldn't create perfect fresh water, so your device shouldn't either. Put in false flags - maybe your device is "bad" at pulling heavy metals out of the water. This will be a hint that will mislead those trying to reverse engineer your system.
  • Make it cheap. Make your money in volume, not in costs. This decentivizes people from trying to steal your device, since it makes it much harder for them to undercut you for a profit.
  • Be paranoid, create anti-tamper components for each device that destroy it and render it useless.
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  • $\begingroup$ I like this idea. Second plant can be a CO2 "elimination" plant. Instead of pumping the excess CO2 deep underground and hoping the rocks will hold it, you can convert it to energy. Eventually, it will be important to use solar to make matter. $\endgroup$ – DeveloperWeeks Nov 5 '15 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ @DeveloperWeeks: Solar is a terrible way to get more matter. We'd be better off converting a fraction of a gram of matter to pure energy, using that to blast out to space and then harvesting asteroids. Or maybe Phobos. What the heck, let's just skip the middle man and harvest directly from the Sun. Who needs fusion anyway! $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 5 '15 at 18:22
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    $\begingroup$ Recycling and waste/water processing are big industries, and the processes involved are typically very expensive.When new technologies come out in any of these fields you'd better believe that the world takes notice. How would you suddenly break into the market with a "new and secret" revolutionary technology and expect to keep it a secret? At the very least you would be petitioned by the governments of the world to share the tech for humanitarian reasons. The media would demonize you for not sharing, etc.Rivals would send spies, maybe even mercenary troops to steal your tech. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 6 '15 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM: If it was being provided extremely cheaply, wouldn't that deflect most attempts to get you to share, or to demonize you? And again, there's no point in using spies/mercenaries if there is no profit to be had. $\endgroup$ – Dan Smolinske Nov 6 '15 at 16:04
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Here's my suggestion(based on the assumption that you start off with nothing other than your invention):

1. Generate an absolutely "off the grid" fortune:

Start off by duplicating some gold/diamonds that you can easily purchase in any local jewelry store. Replicate and sell some of those until you are able to purchase some truly precious stones. Duplicate gold, and those gems, and very discretely amass a small fortune. Smelt the gold into nondescript bars if possible. Selling any of these directly would attract unwanted attention, so the next step is

2. Get a damned good (and preferably shady) lawyer:

At this point, you need to do what countless "criminals" before you have done: launder your fortune. You need to find a firm that's willing to guarantee your anonymity and do the "dirty" work for you, such as putting the stones up for auction, or selling the gold to the kind of people who don't ask too many questions. The key here is not to be greedy: don't flood the market with tonnes of gold. Sell just enough that you built up a few hundred million dollars.

3. An "evil" lair:

Now that you have the funds, you need a base of operations. There's plenty of countries where money will buy you all the privacy you're ever going to need. I would buy a decent sized island somewhere remote. At this point you can build a secure facility and transfer your machine there. You should also hire world-level security experts and possibly a small army to ensure your security and privacy. Now you're ready to get serious:

4. Every overlord requires ...

At this point you should probably find yourself some minions. I'm talking about borderline genius business men and scientists who have, as others have put it, some pretty flexible morals - not in the sense of being evil, but who are willing to allow millions to suffer while they set up your empire - and make no mistake, what you're basically asking for is an empire that NATIONS can't touch. These people can recommend the exact businesses and facilities that you should buy in order for you to establish your cover at an international level. They would ensure that any venture you get into would do well, while not being so wildly successful that you would attract the wrong kind of attention.

At this point you'd base your decisions on their recommendations.

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Edit: The reason I'm taking a "underworld" approach is because this technology is incredibly powerful, and ultimately dangerous. Anyone possessing it would only ever need one gram of a material to generate tonnes of it. Only one prototype device would ever need to be manufactured before being able to create as many of them as you'd like (including weapons).

You would now be able to generate an infinite supply of nuclear fuel, weapons/ammunition, clothes, food, or whatever. How many people would that screw over? How many governments? The answer is ALL OF THEM.

Literally 99.9% of the world's businesses would go bankrupt. Including the banks. You've just rendered anything other than R&D absolutely useless. How many people's jobs/educations would become WORTHLESS? Our current understanding of what makes someone "rich" would cease to exist.

This technology would not excite people: it would SCARE THEM. Every nation in the world would desire to own it exclusively - it would put them at the top of the food chain permanently. How many self serving interest groups are there on this planet? Any one of them would have world domination at their fingertips.

You COULD release the technology on the web and just "level the playing field", but then some terrorist would be able to replicate a nuclear device and end the world (or some such thing). That would be irresponsible.

The only way to implement change is over time. To become so powerful that your changes influence CULTURE, and people's mentality.

Frankly, the only thing I could think of is that you would start a space-tech company, and literally build a private base on the Moon - maybe even Mars. Then start a colony based on the new principles of material wealth for every individual, and encourage pure research of new and more advanced technologies. Eventually you would reveal your power to the world, and offer to manufacture a infinite amount of food and medicine for them - entirely off-world and ship it down, while not releasing the tech to anyone.

Even then I can guarantee massive riots and protests as food and drug-manufacturing businesses simply cease to have a purpose, and millions are left jobless.

This is literally one of those scenarios that sounds innocent, but has devastating consequences, and to which the saying "you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs" truly applies.

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    $\begingroup$ Does this plan also require me to start replicating long haired white cats? I feel like it should... $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 5 '15 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ And there'd have to be submarines and stuff right? $\endgroup$ – Marv Mills Nov 5 '15 at 16:39
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    $\begingroup$ A lot of people are mentioning diamonds. Don't. Diamonds are actually near worthless. There's a tremendous overabundance of diamonds in the world. The only reason there appears to be a shortage is because the suppliers ensure that the market does not become saturated. If they actually sold all they had then diamonds would be worth pennies. Why would people pay so much for diamonds when they have so little value? BRILLIANT MARKETING. That's it. Well, that and a gullible public. $\endgroup$ – Dunk Nov 5 '15 at 16:51
  • $\begingroup$ @andreirom: I'm going to be posting a series of questions on this topic to explore the transition to post-scarcity and see if it can be done without the bloodshed. I think we're all agreed that giving the internet this tech is a one way ticket to annihilation! $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 5 '15 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ Better Call Saul $\endgroup$ – panhandel Nov 9 '15 at 15:18
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Hiring the correct people

Let's face it: It does not really matter what your first company will handle with. It will always be profitable, because you have device which literally prints money.

You have to hire great accountant with flexible morals Your accountant will have to juggle the numbers in order to make your company look "normal". Because if you screw something in your accounting, you will be inspected by IRS (or its instance of that country)

You have to be good in money laundering From the start you will have to make the "made up" money seem clean. And you have to be able to hide such laundering well, because if you do not, the state might assume you are into drug business (which you actually could, because your device can also make any drug in the world, in lab quality).

You have to have flexible morals yourself The money will get you to the power. But first steps of the ladder will be filthy a lot.

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Move to some small third-world country that is experiencing serious famine and start producing food out of garbage, human waste and other undesirable materials. Give that food to the country's government in return for them turning a blind eye on your other activities. Let the current leadership take the credit for solving the famine and use their gratitude to form strong friendships with key figures in that government.

Create some gold and use it to buy farmlands within the country, providing a plausible source of where the food is coming from. Use your machine to transform the dirt of your farmland into the highest quality soil and bury several copies of your machine at keep points to produce water. Employ lots of people to farm your land and pay them in food. Add any excess to the food that you're giving the government.

At all costs, stay away from accounting. Use money/gold only for land purchases and bribes. Food is a much better currency because nobody tracks it and no explanation is ever needed when it disappears without legal explanation.

Suggest to your government friends that they should donate some of the excess food to neighboring countries when those countries have need. Let your country become a source of benevolence for the entire region. That kind of kindness is a subtle power, and little more than that is needed to bring stability to a troubled region. Once peace is assured, start buying farmlands in adjacent nations, get more friends in those governments, and let your food empire grow.

Select a few of your smarter farm-hands and send them to world's finest agriculture schools. Pay their tuition so they can earn letters after their names, then bring them back to monitor food and soil quality and to manage your farms. Provide your government friends with gold to donate to your charitable organization, so that you can pay these homegrown experts in gold and food. You will need these experts to spread your empire, later in the game.

Check your mindset : You have a machine that can create anything out of anything. Conventional tools of power such as money and gold, and even the concept of ownership should be irrelevant to you. What you should care about is the love of your people and the power that that love gives you over them. Keep fueling the food economy, making sure that everyone within your sight is fabulously wealthy in their stomachs.

As your countries prosper, members of the old global power-base will of course take notice. Let them. They will send in their investigators and find that your charitable organization is solving real problems, apparently through nothing more than good farming practices. Now is the time for you to send your experts out into the world, volunteering their knowledge and spreading your power. Stay out of the first world. Big Food is already playing a very similar power game there, so you need to stay off their radar. Instead, help all of the smaller, poorer countries in the world to become self sufficient and slowly devalue the premium which fresh water and food currently enjoy in those places. Keep making government friends.

Again, do as much as possible, without using money. You don't need to own a solution to have it give you power. You just have to be known as the source of that solution. That gives you subtle authority over it.

If your goal is the absolute power necessary to announce your machine's existence safely, there is no better path than making all other forms of power meaningless; and the easiest path to doing that is to feed and thus empower all the people. Nothing generates greater loyalty and allegiance than the filling of a formerly empty stomach.

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    $\begingroup$ An elegant solution. Not sure how much political clout it provides in the nations/regions that already have more than enough food though. If combined with some of the other answers to gain political capital (money and friends) this philosophy is an excellent one to help smooth the eventual transition to post-scarcity. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 5 '15 at 20:13
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    $\begingroup$ soylent green is garbage and human waste! $\endgroup$ – Mr.Mindor Nov 6 '15 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ It will shock you how people in "third world" countries prefer a lot more than just getting paid in food. $\endgroup$ – ojonugwa ochalifu Nov 9 '15 at 13:53
  • $\begingroup$ Didn't mean any insult upon the third world. Was only trying to address the O.P.'s desire to avoid detection by the powers that be. As for payment preferences, I started my answer by targeting a country with a serious famine. I don't care where you live... if you and the people around you are starving, food is always preferable to money. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Nov 9 '15 at 14:28
  • $\begingroup$ No offense was taken dude.Was just saying. $\endgroup$ – ojonugwa ochalifu Nov 10 '15 at 15:22
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An Old Proverb

To use a old Greek Proverb

"It is twice as hard to crush a half-truth as a whole lie"

To that point start with a half-truth, say you have inefficient way to convert matter to energy. Use some sudo-science to make it impressive but not that impressive, eg. it requires a complicated reactive agent, it explodes every time, etc..
This gives you a nice cover to build on while also meaning no-one will feel threatened enough to seize your invention / kill it.

Starting your empire

Now you are known, perform a funding round to create a "incinerator" plant using the new technology (crowd funding may even be possible here if you label it as "Green Energy" etc.), also start an R&D department to research further improvements for the technology.

Doing this should result in excess energy in your machines, some of this you could push into the grid but not all of it.
So tell another half truth state you have found a way to leave useful materials behind (raw metals and plastics), you can fudge any tests performed by actually doing so and when in use just generate excess material. This means you should be generating a nice profit without anyone thinking anything is up.

Next Steps

While doing this have your R&D department looking, and collaborating with other labs about projects that can be improved with increased energy. Keep the power generator research in house as much as possible, to maintain control over who uses the technology (for example you can use it to limit research into areas you are going to make irrelevant).

This will have the effect of keeping your researchers busy, making the world more dependent on you and reducing the economic and social impacts of unlimited power when you release it fully. You can focus on slowly improving the efficiency of your technology and then have your lab create a very inefficient matter generation machine.

Repeat and Rinse

Do the same thing with matter generation and with power, improvement can follow a exponential curve as the world gets more use to the technology.

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    $\begingroup$ The second you'd announce that you have ANY method of transforming dirt into raw materials/technology/weapons, etc you would get invaded by the nearest military force. No nation would tolerate someone else owning that kind of power, especially if it causes explosions when used. You would actually be offering them the perfect excuse for confiscating it: we're taking it away for your own good, because it's imperfect technology, and dangerous to use. In the mean time, they'd be "cloning" entire carriers and preparing to take over the world. Telling anyone about it = you're dead. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 6 '15 at 14:30
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This is actually very similar in character to the Rynn series of questions on this stack exchange. Rynn is a "subtle mage" who uses her powers in ways others cannot always detect. I recommend doing a search for her name on Worldbuilding.

Don't use the device to oppose people, use it to make their lives better. People tend to give a blind eye to strangenesses that are working in their favor. Also, randomize what you're doing. Don't always produce 1 gold bar for every pound of trash you take care of. Sometimes just product 0.2 gold bars or something like that. It makes it harder to prove that you're doing something hard.

One particular similar story that comes to mind is Stranger in a Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein. He at one point has a religion where the services have an odd offerings process. The offering plate is passed around, if you can, you put something on the plate. If you're on hard times, you take some off, no one judges. If you had a similar system in place, it would be remarkably hard to prove you were doing anything clever with your invention without getting everyone in the congregation to all swear what they put in/took out of the plate each week.

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  • $\begingroup$ I've read the Rynn series of questions, and this question is very similar to (but distinct from) the replicating box question (which I don't think is actually part of that series, but is certainly tangentially linked). The major difference is that eventually this chain of questions will lead to being very un-subtle (completely changing the world). This is just the starting point. :-) I hadn't even considered a religious/sociological angle on hiding this machine. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 5 '15 at 15:44
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You can't hide it. If you ever use the machine to improve any legit operation (like garbage dump), your company will immediately pop up on IRS and police radars as turning bigger profit than it should (other companies doing same business). They won't think you have a magic machine, they will be sure you're laundering money - and that's the kind of attention you don't want.

Because what you're doing basically IS laundering money: you create assets out of nothing and then you're trying to pass them as legitimate income to introduce them into circulation.

I think your best option is to create gold or cocaine out of thin air, sell it on black market and then use regular organized crime methods to launder the money.

After you establish enough wealth, you can buy some cheap land, create and bury a whole lot of gold ore/raw diamonds/rare earth metals/any other valuable mineral, and then "discover" the deposits and sell/loan the land to a mining company (or establish own). Of course, that would also raise huge suspicions. Like everyone suspect that Russian diamond mine of Mirny is not a real mine but a front for artificial diamond factory (just because it's yield is unrealistically high).

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  • $\begingroup$ If I'm 'burning' the waste and producing energy that's certainly legitimate, if a little eyebrow raising, but I hadn't considered that law enforcement might just assume I'm getting the extra material through organised crime. That's exactly the kind of issue that would trip me up. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 5 '15 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs If you're just burning waste, you don't need the machine at all. If you get more energy from the waste than regular furnace, you create assets (kWhs) out of nothing (over what is possible with regular technology). $\endgroup$ – Agent_L Nov 5 '15 at 20:24
  • $\begingroup$ Randomly finding a new deposit of precious metals or gems would raise a LOT of suspicion. The cost of setting any mining operation up is insane. Gold is typically present in a concentration of a few grams per tonne of rocks/dirt. You bring up tonnes and tonnes of dirt, and put it through a chemical process that typically involves acids and cyanide in order to extract the gold. How would you bury the gold deep enough, or in a realistic pattern? How would you pay for setting up the mine? How would you convince everyone involved to lie about your mine? Especially when the competition sends spies? $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 6 '15 at 14:39
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM Read my answer again and find out I've already addressed most of your issues. $\endgroup$ – Agent_L Nov 6 '15 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Agent_L I just found the word choice really ironic. $\endgroup$ – Dronz Nov 9 '15 at 16:13
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I'd get into hospitality and counterfeit wines and spirits.

Fine wine can go for thousands per bottle. It's very hard to counterfeit pre-WWII wines, because modern bottles contain trace radioactive elements from atomic blasts. You can create convincing pre-war bottles. Hell, you can create convincing pre-war wine!

Whiskey is similar: you can convincingly counterfeit a $200 bottle of 25 year whiskey - for free!

So start small with a restaurant or bar, and supplement your stock with your invention. Encourage your staff to give out lots of free drinks to encourage business. Fudge the accounting, and you just look like a successful small business owner.

Once you've got the cash, buy another location. Rinse and repeat. Eventually I'd expand into hotels - you can create your own cleaning supplies, which should help your margins. It'll be very hard to pin down where the extra supplies are coming from, because you are actually buying spirits and soap and whatnot. Just not as much of it as you should be.

Get a reputation for luxury, and keep a couple of truly marvelous bottles in every location. It'll get harder to fudge the accounting as your wines and spirits get rarer, but your margins are going to be fantastic. Balance the risk, and don't get too greedy.

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    $\begingroup$ Use my massive intellect to start a chain of robotic bars/restaurants/hotels to avoid any employees. When they reach critical mass UNLEASH THE ROBOT APOCALYPSE!!!!! MUAHAHAHA!!!!!!! Ahem $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 5 '15 at 20:18
  • $\begingroup$ The supply of old vintages in the world is relatively small, and typically accounted for. You're thinking on far too small a scale, and also in a fashion which would attract attention from the snobs and wealthy (aka powerful ppl) of the world. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 6 '15 at 15:13
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM - sure the high end stuff is well accounted for, but the mid-range (hundreds per bottle) much less so. Using this invention without getting caught is going to involve getting into an industry and having subtly better margins than your competitors. You only need a dozen or two extra mid-range bottles per month to make your bar way more profitable than it should be. Using bars and restaurants and hotels also allows you to grow from something small, and you have a built in money laundering system! $\endgroup$ – codeMonkey Nov 6 '15 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ I have friends in the hospitality business, and it's typically very labour intensive. A lot of work needs to go into restaurants/hotels, and you face a lot of scrutiny from health officials, etc. You need to show where you get your supplies from, etc. I still think you'd get caught pretty fast. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 6 '15 at 15:32
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Give it away for (almost) free

  • Develop a couple of "limited" versions of your device that are inefficient. That is, don't work as well as they could, but work better than might be expected.
  • Start a kickstarter to sell these, however when you deliver the final model make them less inefficient (software limited) and gradually increase the efficiency with software updates.
  • Once you have sufficient funds, and a large enough user base turn off the limiting software for everyone.

Bonus points if you make it so the machine can make more copies of itself (and maybe don't let on this is possible until final stages). Suddenly we're living in post-scarcity society as everyone has access because all the altruistic people who bought these will make more and give them away, and eventually everyone will have them.

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I really can't imagine how you'll pull it off. As soon as a government of an English-speaking country gets interested enough, you'll have all five eyes in all of your computers, phones, etc. There's nowhere to hide these days.

But there's nothing else for you to do. You have to take a stab.

Go back to your home country

It would help if you're an immigrant from a poor country. Or at least the child of one. Pack your bags and move to wherever you came from.

Wherever that is, they'll take your fake dollars without asking questions. Stay low for a while. Have a good time. Make friends. You'll need them. Develop your social network by partying. As long as you're sociable, you'll get far by paying for the meals, the drinks, and the girls. Noone will care too much where your money comes from. You won't need to spend that much, anyway. Say you're a programmer and your I'm Rich app for the Blackberry 10 afforded you a comfortable living.

Eventually, you'll find agreeable business partners. They'll be your mentors, your protectors. They've spent years corrupting the system, and you won't need to worry about the "rules."

Start simple. "Import" electronics. Or cars. Say you have other friends at the border who helped you avoid import duties.

Stay simple. You have all the time in the world. Learn the ropes. Integrate better into this society. Make more friends.

Be the mediator between your acquaintances. Someone needs building materials. No problem. Someone needs gasoline. Sure. You'll be the master of logistics, and everyone will be ready to cover for you.

You're half-way there

Already, you will have power. Power, ultimately, is political. It is these people. They who like you. They who will vouch for you. They who will step in for you and fight each other for their own sake in this corrupt country where everything is possible.

Your fake money will be ever easier to produce and spend. You don't need to literally launder it in the sense of proving where you got it to a tax authority. You need to merely psychologically launder it, so that everyone in your circle believes it is reasonable for you to have it.

Pretty soon, you can run for office. Your campaign will have plenty of funding. You will have plenty of friends. You will be a shoo-in for a member of Parliament.

In government, it will be even easier to pretend to make money and further entrench your tentacles in the system. By now, you will have many business partners and many legitimate shady business dealings. You hardly ever need to use your machine, except to grease the wheels of your enterprises with more fake cash.

As you rise to the top, you'll be able to take over and possess really substantial industrial properties. Properties that make oligarchs into billionaires in places like Ukraine. Mines, steel plants, etc. On their own, they're profitable enough. But you can do even better. You can manufacture ore, or natural gas, or end product. But as always, that's just to grease the wheels. Much of your wealth you take by force. You do what everyone else has done before you.

Stage 2 ready for ignition

You are at the top dog of a lawless place. Noone knows where you got anything or for how much. And noone asks. They already assume to know the truth. Even the NSA doesn't bother to dig deep. Not that they'd find much anyway. Your history is clean, simple, and predictable.

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I'm late to the party but after reading some answers I guess you should not do all the hard guessing work on how to conceal or how to open up and let them know or what to share with whom first.

1. Build a spaceship and dress up as an benevolent Alien

You stay in orbit and just swamp the Earth with your message of peace. You claim you have that technology which you already have and you are offering to give whatever is needed to humanity (just not the machine itself of course). Requests for service have to be peaceful, sustainable and help the humans. Every request is subject of a 30 days discussion period (on reddit maybe) and if no real opposit point is proven you fulfill that request. Introduce the guy (yourself) as your chosen buddy for some more personal gains. (Only point is how to start to build that spaceship since you might not be an expert in all the fields of knowledge required. For that maybe just win the lottery, create a charity and get some experts on that first. If they want in on that alien joke they could pose as your Alien friends.) On a second thought you might outsource everything of this and just ask the humans to come up with a way of making sure a request is properly thought out and restrained.

2. Create your own island

Claim to have found Atlantis and made use of their ancient machine. Put a floating island somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean without disturbing the ship routes too much. Build an AI, ask her to devise a shield device and build that. After that you are pretty free to do whatever you please: maybe build a space elevator and many satellites (full surveillance). Ask the AI to make sure if somebody is about to do something against your Atlantis to notify you or/and to do something against it automatically. Some ideas from then:

  • Flood every city with a 'food-dropping device' so to extinguish hunger.
  • Offer transportation services with flying drones which can carry tons of stuff to remote locations for almost nothing.
  • In case someone wants to join you build two cities on your island (make it bigger if needed), one to get the people and evaluate them (AI should help devise a way) and then send them back or they can be a local citizen then. Come up with some easy rules and nobody has to hunger there and can do whatever he pleases. Once you have the correct people for your utopia you can always strap some rockets under the island and just fly away.
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, an material-energy converter doesn't really help getting an AI. $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Nov 6 '15 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ @PaŭloEbermann he did say he is a genius. Having some nice deep learning algorithms and a neverending supply of (cloned) high capacity servers and energy to operate will surely help. $\endgroup$ – CausticHarmony Nov 9 '15 at 16:23
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Ok, I'm going to go down a slightly different route that the other folk here. Like they say, keep it simple.

Step 1. You say your device has a field around it in which it can work yes? How about setting up a whitelist of chemical configurations that are allowed within this field unaffected i.e yourself, your belongings, the surrounding landscape, anything you want to actually use to turn into something specific etc. Anything not on this whitelist is automatically turned into air.

Step 2. You then announce to the world that you can do whatever the hell you want because you are essentially a god. Anyone that tries to get access to your machine, or bomb it, or basically anything else that you don't want to happen is turned into air and is not a problem any more. Granted, you'll have to stay inside your "safety field" for a wee while until your total control of the world is asserted, but, once you have proven that you are a benevolent god, the people will come to accept you.

Step 2b. As an aside, you, with your nigh-on infinite genius, could probably use a mobile field generator to surround yourself in a similar field to stop any assassination attempts. And the best thing about it is that you don't have to create an evil robot army or anything similar to protect you as you are essentially invincible.

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    $\begingroup$ And the world dissolves into chaos and death. The eventual aim is to not end up with civilisation burning. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 6 '15 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ The minute you made that kind of announcement you would open yourself up to attack and destruction. Sure, your "field" would destroy anyone or anything trying to approach you, but how about someone digging under your base and setting off a nuke or two? The earthquake alone might disable your machine and open you up to attack. The only way to do this is to maintain absolute secrecy until you are in a position of great power, and you make your technology as difficult to steal as possible - best to get it off-world. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 6 '15 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM Digging underneath with a nuke is an interesting concept although still totally preventable. You could just as easily extend the field deep underground, much deeper than any conventional drilling system, with such a machine. Furthermore I hardly think many governments are going to start the nuking just because some guy says he has some new technology. I was, of course being sarcastic with all the acting like a god stuff... No need to be confrontational. The point is that there is literally no form of attack that can affect you or your machine if you are well enough prepared. $\endgroup$ – insidious_elk Nov 6 '15 at 15:39
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs, Why would the world descend into chaos and death? I was, of course, being flippant with the whole "I'm a god, I can do what I want" thing. If you said "I've invented a new technology and I'm going to use it to solve all the worlds problems". 99% of the world will love you and the 1% that don't can't do anything about it. $\endgroup$ – insidious_elk Nov 6 '15 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Insidious_elk - You have a tech that can take sh!t and turn it into gold. Every manufacturing business in the world is going to go bust. Every bank. Being rich will hold no more meaning. The power of the most dangerous people in the world is going to go up in smoke. Any government that posses your invention would be able to manufacture an infinite amount of weapons overnight. Poor countries could become superpowers, etc. How many would be left jobless? How many industries would become useless? How many super-rich and powerful would lose all their status? You'd make powerful enemies. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 6 '15 at 16:11
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Another "brute force" suggestion to consider:

Use the machine to transform the matter at a safe distance underground, at the edge of it's sphere of influence to the mobile emitters that you mentioned, then do this again for each of these mobile emitters and repeat the process until you have a network of emitters that spans the world (this will be virtually instantaneous), at which point you become in control of all of the matter on the surface of the planet. From here on you can do whatever you wish. Make crops grow in Africa, turn nukes into bunnies, Wipe away children's tears etc.

The world, sir, is your oyster. And, should you decide to come out as the creator of this wonderful new world, if anyone questions your powers, you can instantly turn their genitals into an angry badger. Problem solved.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is the correct answer. You don't need time or effort or capital to invest to take over the world. You don't need anything at all but what you already have, the ability to remotely replicate emitters just beneath the surface of the earth. I'd pave the planet with them. Then you just need a really good search algorithm for physical space and some good algorithms to transmute things like missiles headed your way $\endgroup$ – Joshua Hanley Nov 10 '15 at 16:03
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I'm sorry but I could not resist posting yet another answer here. Here is a sketch of a strategy that works.

  1. Accept the inevitable: you will get noticed. So instead of hiding, become a media person who cannot disappear without noise.

  2. Pose as a mad scientist/inventor, like Tesla. Make ridiculous claims, like you're working on colonizing other planets, or replacing aircraft with a net of tubes.

  3. Start selling something high-tech, mobile, and power-hungry. Build charge stations here and there, and offer electricity for free. Don't forget cool solar panels at the top. Acquire accumulator patents and release them to the public - no competitor can beat replication anyway.

  4. Go for a government contract, say for reusable rockets. Rockets are expensive. Land a couple (this is going to be tough), pretend you "examine" them, then just replicate the whole thing the way it was before launch.

  5. In the meantime, buy an island in the sea, equip it with powerful laser guns and prepare to move there. No one can get you.

  6. ???

  7. Profit! And hope you had a laugh reading this. :-)

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Switch any resource from the other plans with drugs or any other illegal commodity. Then you don’t have to “cook” your energy books. Anyone investigating you would already expect erratic book keeping due to the illegal substance. Your illegal activities would draw attention to your front men and potentially to you, but not to your technology. If you act through middle men and front groups you can distance yourself from any actual criminal activity.

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    $\begingroup$ There are items out there much more valuable than illegal drugs or precious metals. Some legal prescription drugs sell for 10,000, 100,000, or more a dose. The problem is most of these items are exceedingly tightly controlled. Showing up with "legal" but expensive Rx drugs would be uncovered quickly. $\endgroup$ – Jim2B Nov 5 '15 at 18:53
  • $\begingroup$ The value here is in remaining hidden, not in fastest way to make money. 3 of the worlds top 15 richest men of the 80s-90s made their wealth through the illegal drug trade. It might not be possible to make quite so much these days (due to competition) but you can make enough and keep your new technology secret. $\endgroup$ – PCSgtL Nov 5 '15 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Do you think that your competition - ISIS, Taliban, Columbian and Mexican drug lords - would sit idly by while some new-comer floods the market with product from an unidentified source? Plus, anyone who provides a large amount of drugs is bound to come under scrutiny by the governments of the world as well. I think this is probably the best way to get killed, not stay hidden. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 6 '15 at 15:10
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Run an incendiary waste disposal plant. Turn a microscopic amount of the incoming waste into antimatter to boost the turbine output. Over a couple of years, gradually increase the amount until the energy production reaches absurd levels. You should be able to run most of the power grid after awhile.

It will attract eyes, but they'll see waste going into the burn doors and power coming out the turbines. They won't see the machine embedded in the foundation beneath the incendiary chamber.

Once you have a fair amount of money coming in, invest in rocketry, but not in the US. Kenya would be competitive for rocket launches if you charge low enough, and you've got a really good power source. They'll be expecting something's up if you overpower it too much but if you beat current rockets by 50% maybe not ...

If pressed too far, you might be able to claim to have found a way to fuse D + D -> He4 as a hot reaction. A nuclear physicist would declare it hogwash (the reaction does not normally occur) but the gamma radiation w/o the neutron radiation would back up the claim until they look way too closely.

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Another thing you can do if you're interested in good works without personal benefit and have already built up some money:

Flaunt it in a restricted fashion.

Build a 1GW powerplant out in the middle of some wasteland, power for sale for 1 cent per kwh. (Looking at the big nations of the world I see plenty of suitable ground in the western United States, much of Canada, much of Siberia and western China and other areas that aren't so tied to countries like the Sahara.)

Anonymously announce the existence of the powerplants, the terms of using them are the government will not tax them and will administer an account for you--the money received from the power goes into the account, money will be disbursed in accordance with messages bearing your PGP key. Non-compliance or meddling means the plant shuts down. They are warned that the plants use antimatter and have anti-tamper systems--they don't really have antimatter (big safety issue!) but will blow up spectacularly if anyone or anything enters without the system being turned off first.

Build for minimal maintenance and all maintenance is performed off-site--you simply lift the whole plant out with a space vehicle.

Once you have built one you'll have no problem getting government cooperation to provide all the supporting infrastructure you need for others--simply announcing one is ready for placement will get you governments falling all over each other to help. The 1GW is simply a starter--make the later plants much bigger.

Also, water--offer cheap desalinization. They built everything but the filter itself.

I expect someone in a repressive regime will test the anti-tampers, after one plant goes sky high and they don't get any more for some years I don't think there will be any more problem.

This allows you to do a lot of good before you reveal the technology. You can't actually make any money this way, though--for that I like Marv Mill's suggestion of salting mines.

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One thing you might not realize is that this technology has the ability to create materials that are otherwise impossible to engineer. Instead of scanning materials and copying them, why not invent your own?

For example, Gorilla Glass is a brand of glass commonly used in cellphones and tablets. Specially engineered internal stresses in the material cause it to be very strong. By your description, it sounds like your machine could achieve a much stronger material than what could be achieved by traditional engineering techniques such as supercooling, etc.

Another example is carbon nanotubes and other nano surfaces. You could achieve unmatched efficiency with solar panels, lithium ion batteries, super-lightweight and super-strong materials for military purposes, etc.

Start by manufacturing something for the military. Get a military contract. The US military is a STRONG ally to have. Start making space-age materials for them. Get them dependent on your technology. Eventually they will realize something is not quite right, and they will start asking questions. This is ok. Be open with them. Meet with the president, etc. Keep things low-key. Don't go public. Keep your production to a minimum and have a small group of exclusive clients. Keep your on-paper assets realistic. Purchase lots of raw materials, and use these in your fabricator to create objects made from the same materials, just to keep things realistic.

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  • $\begingroup$ You could always sponsor research in allied fields. Most academic research doesn't produce anything practical, but your technology can camouflage that. The neat thing is that academic research is typically abstruse and difficult to replicate. Just think of the cold fusion controversy of some time back. $\endgroup$ – CyberFonic Nov 7 '15 at 4:00
  • $\begingroup$ I think it works the opposite way - people will figure out it's phony because nobody else and reproduce the results. So you'll either be criticized for leaving out critical details, or outright lying. Do this enough times and people will start to notice. Cold fusion is actually a perfect example of this. $\endgroup$ – James Watkins Nov 7 '15 at 20:21
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Team up with the Venus Project and other utopian groups

They have the plan to build a new society, but lack the technology and resources to make it happen. You have the technology and resources but lack a plan.

If you want to create a new society for the full benefit of all mankind, model it after the Venus Project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rvpTmiVhcxU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuKPHQQ_IYM

Create A resource based economy

If your machine can create almost anything for free, that would make capitalism obsolete, and you could create the perfect society with a resource based economy, where the people can have anything practically for free.

Build an underground research center/base of operations

Buy some land in Canada, and build a small or medium sized factory or research center in the deep forest. It has to be in a relatively isolated area. Then, buy all the land 10 kilometers around your facility, and surround it with a fence, and declare it a natural preserve. Build a single road to the small factors located smack in the middle of this area. What looks like to be a small factory or research building is actually a massive underground driveway to your underground base where you produce anything from new technology to food, to your own personal army of hi-tech robots. This underground base has to extend underground throughout the whole area of your natural preserve. Put carefully concealed cameras inside trees throughout your natural preserve to spot infiltrators. Put cameras and booby traps along the road lest anyone tries to drive in. Put wolves in the natural preserve so that they will live in the forest and take care of any infiltrators. Ship live deer into the natural preserve each week and set them loose. This place should be located in a mountainous area (preferably) so that It'll be hard to get to. Have carefully concealed communication antennas hidden in the forest

Build anti-gravity flying vehicles Since your machine can create anything you want, you should create some anti-gravity flying vehicles. You should make them look like flying saucer-UFO's and secretly spread rumors of aliens to discredit sightings of your anti-gravity vehicles flying around the natural preserve. Dig a lake in the natural preserve and fill it with water and plant trees around it and make it look like a real lake. Build a huge opening hatch in the bottom of the lake. Have this hatch connect to the underground base. Build an underground hangar for the anti-gravity vehicles under the hatch. When the hatch will open, your anti-gravity vehicles will fly out through the water and out of the lake, into the air. Being anti-gravity flying vehicles, they do not need to travel through air like jets. Build a water-lock or else your underground base will be flooded. Modify your anti-gravity vehicles to be air-tight so that they can travel through water or vaccum. Modify them so that they can take you out into space and to your Moon or Mars base as someone else already posted.

Build a quantum computer Make a quantum computer with your machine and put it in the underground base. This quantum computer will be able to decode the websites of all the organizations in the world. You will be able to hack into anything. This quantum computer could make a program that would calculate the future based on what you could do. Make the quantum computer decide what the best form of events you would take.

Build a fleet of spaceships Using the anti-gravity technology, build a fleet of huge spaceships. Set your spaceships hovering over all major cities to intimidate everybody and declare your plan to the world.

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For initial wealth generation, use gold.

Make up to a pound but make it with a bunch of impurities, claim that it is recycled gold and send it to a small refiner to "purify" and stamp it for gold content. They will take 10-20% as their fee. Then you can sell it legally. You can't do that too much but you can use it to fund the next step.

Find locations in California or other western states that offer mining claims (they still exist). Look at a geological map and examine the unclaimed areas and stake a claim in a likely spot that isn't too hard to get to. Then buy some gold produced in that area so you can get the correct impurities and isotopes. Then go there, use your machine to dig a bit and make a few pounds of gold that match the local gold. Send it to the refiner you used before. Sell that gold and buy some of the expected heavy machinery. Then go to town "mining" gold. Trade up to a larger refinery. Sell 10% of the gold for working expenses and store the rest with a name company like Goldman Sacks.

So far, everything looks like normal operations. Anyone who investigates will see that the gold appears to be produced locally. If anyone physically investigates the mine (which means that you got very sloppy somewhere), they find a hole in the ground and you can claim that the current seam has been played out.

Once you have a good amount of gold stored (and a good chunk of cash in the bank), you can start to get creative. Monetize the gold on deposit and use that to make trades. You can use these trades to generate quite a bit of wealth without touching your machine.

Once you are legitimately wealthy, you can start diversifying into companies that use your machine.

Personally, I would fund a rocket company to build a base on the Moon. Once there, if you vet the people who come up, you can use your machine relatively openly. You will then have a good defensive position from which to openly offer the services of your machine.

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  • $\begingroup$ Rocket company? $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Mar 16 '17 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ Sure. You could hire SpaceX but why have someone else's nose in your business? Not only that but you could hide private equipment on your rockets. No one is going to open and inspect random equipment boxes. This keeps everything under the radar and then under a red herring until you are safely on the Moon. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Mar 16 '17 at 17:38
  • $\begingroup$ I recommend reading the linked question. :D $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Mar 17 '17 at 6:49
  • $\begingroup$ Ah, for some reason, I didn't recognize that as a link. Reading now. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Mar 17 '17 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeBloggs, OK, I don't have any better answers for stealthing in space. That's why I went the camouflage route. Have a legit space business. Have that legit business build a station in LEO. Use the life support space (you need a box that takes in bad area and makes good air) for your "other" projects. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Mar 17 '17 at 17:49
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What are the major problems that I will have to contend with from a non-scientific point of view?

To succeed, you need to make humanity want to be saved by you.

The issues are mainly social and economical, education, trust and willingness. These can be viewed from a scientific point of view as well, of course. So by "non-scientific", I assume you mean "outside of the science needed to build and operate the device".

Your biggest challenge is to convince enough of humanity that you would be the best king. You need help from other humans. You can only win if your party is big enough. In democratic terms, you need to sway the majority in your favor. If too much of humanity is against you, you will not succeed, no matter the device.

Your plan is to give this invention to humanity without endangering it. From a pessimistic point of view, I'd say that this is impossible. You simply can't not endanger humanity with this. Whichever way you think of, there's always a chance that humanity perishes.

From an optimistic point of view, you want to maximize the chances of survival.

The possibilities of a device like this are so far-reaching, you would need a world government to control it, some single entity with exlusive power over the devices' usage. If multiple parties have access to the device, suicidal or other undesireable tendencies of only one party might thwart the efforts of all others.

Danger lies in individuals that currently have power, but, according to your question, you do not trust them to wield it in a "beneficial" way. My impression is that individuals who already have power are unlikely to risk losing it to someone whom they do not trust. So, you need to gain the trust of enough people, and those who already have power in particular.

Some may not want to be saved by you, no matter what. To coerce these, you effectively need the support of the rest of humanity.

Good thing such a device defies logic. Saves us the headache of having to deal with this problem in reality. :-)

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This is inspired by Fringe's powerful science and technology research company Massive Dynamic, whose motto is "what don't we do?"

Start an organisation that legitimately does a lot of R&D. A lot. Your huge R&D budget would provide an explanation of how you can do things cheaper than the competition.

At the heart of your business will be producing things that in theory don't require a lot of raw materials or energy, but in practice do not have any known economical production methods, such as particular drugs or highly pure materials. You would only undercut the competition a little bit and limit volumes so as not to arouse too much suspicion. But even with low volumes these things can be very lucrative because they are so expensive to make.

Surrounding this would be many legitimate research and production endeavours. You will employ many scientists and engineers to work on legitimate problems, and you will have established networks of suppliers and clients that help you expand and find new opportunities. Eventually you will be in everything from superconducting magnets to siRNA therapies to nanotechnology.

And this is your real cover! By diversifying and moving into more markets, more products, you are able to amass more land, wealth and power without sticking out too much in any one industry. Once you're ready to move to the next phase, you'll have factories of all sorts at your disposal, too.

Due to all your high-value stock and equipment, nobody would question why you have tight security at some of your sites. You would also have many accountants and lawyers at your disposal. You would understandably have safeguards in place to protect your trade secrets and intellectual property.

Although it's tempting to use the machine to cut costs here there and everywhere by creating raw materials and machines and eliminating hazardous waste, things won't add up and someone will notice. It is much safer to say "on level 4 we have an XYZ machine that uses a trade-secret process to efficiently create chemical B." Potentially the machine can be a fake, and every night you personally restock it with what it later dispenses (because why trust anyone else to do it?).

If you're brilliant enough, you don't even need to use the machine at all... just legitimately use your genius to direct your researchers to work on things that you know will bring big results. But if you want to get there faster or the machine was a bit of a fluke, then you'll have to use the machine to help you get that extra cash flow that gives you an edge over everyone else.

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The problem is you need a loyal agents of some sort. And you need to be aware of all the possible antagonists, and have a way to manage all the situations that may come up.

If the world were as simple as it seemed to be before the middle of the 20th Century, with sovereign nation states and no fast long-range flying or orbital weapons, no Internet, etc, then it would be a lot easier. You could choose a nation that can defend itself, and form a strong alliance with its leadership, being careful to keep your own security strong enough that if someone takes over that country's military, they still won't be able to kill you or steal your technology.

Unfortunately, in the 21st Century, it's hard to tell what all the actual powerful threats are. The counties are largely shells now, heavily corrupted by large networks of inter-owned/controlled corporations and banks which hold most of the planet's wealth and power, and which do what they do in part due to aggressive systems of ideas, but also by leadership and influence of many layers of executives, investors, and non-public figures (investors, friends, probably other non-public social groups of very powerful people). The nations and their military and espionage organizations are a dangerous threat, but those are known (listed on CIA web site) and have limited scope and influence. You need to have a plan for all the nasty string-pullers.

Since you're an inventor type, and don't have time for that, one approach would be to get someone you trust completely to build a highly-trusted group of strong strategists and researchers to manage all that, and you need them not to be detected, and none of them to leak information.

Another plan would be to figure out what you need for a research lab to develop sufficient defensive technology, and then arrange to do merely that. You find a likeable 3rd world country, and set up a research/manufacturing and/or energy company there, and get some contracts to do some work, so you get the equipment you need to do your real research and development as a small secret project within the operation, which you help fulfil its formal contracts well but not too well, to keep the operation afloat.

I don't know how long it's going to take you to develop such further technology, but that should get you private lab space.

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Initial stage

Fabricate gold. Sell some of it. Use leftover as "gifts" to politicians for stage 2

Stage 2

Say that you found cheap and clean method to extract elements from sea water. Let people think it's new kind of on-exchange resin but don't tell that directly. But you need to move to real production.

Rent island from some country lake Greece (gold from initial stage helps).

Order complex machinery which pump water via "reactors".

"Reactors" will have only one secret part which will be well protected by self-destruction systems.

Accept orders slightly below market price. Decrease you prices over time.

Don't accept orders for nuclear materials without questions.

Use money to help re-orient no-longer-necessary industries.

Order 'airplane-without-engines' and later add engines based on your tech (just generate stream of helium or nitrogen...). You will need it if you want to escape.

Talk to industrialized country you can trust about selling or giving you combat equipment, including anti-air systems (nothing fancy, just to surive first wave).

Wait for some country to demand that your technology should belong to humanity and they will control it and attack you.

Escape to Moon in your "airplane".

Observe how they can't put production back online (self-destruction systems worked after all).

Wait for UN to invite you back officially on YOUR terms. ....

p.s. this is basically summary from Russian-language story at http://samlib.ru/p/podolxskij_w_a/np-1.shtml (their invention was "just" matter-generators, including anti-matter)

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protected by Community Nov 7 '15 at 18:34

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