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So the human race, with its endless "inventiveness", developed a technology to literally create anything out of nothing. 3D printer-like machines can create stone, metal or any other material without using any matter as input, just energy (just as much as a toaster).

But as always, no one knows what consequences arise with the use of this technology, at least in the long run.

So the question is: what effects would creating "matter" out of nothing have on the earth and its inhabitants.

(creation of mass would be constant e.g. 100.000 tons a year or more and no explicitly harmful objects/materials would be created using this technology)

My thoughts:

  • would air be pushed to outer space?
  • would the earth start to slow down or leave its orbit due to increasing mass?
  • will there just be less space over time?
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closed as primarily opinion-based by AndreiROM, Aify, James, TrEs-2b, Frostfyre Jan 5 '16 at 20:34

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ That sounds like it's breaking the first law of thermodynamics, and thus is impossible to answer. If you're willing to bend physics out of shape to that degree than you can make up pretty much any consequences. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Jan 5 '16 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ Have some required reading $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jan 5 '16 at 19:31
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Ignoring the incredible amount of magic needed to create matter with the energy input of a toaster, the major problem eventually would be constantly adding large amount of mass to the planet.

Granted 100,000 tons a year is almost nothing, the world averages 135,000,000 tonnes of steel production a MONTH. So your estimate would likely not even cover a single state in the US.

Adding huge amounts of mass to the planet will slowly increase the mass of the planet, causing higher gravity and other issues possibly with plate tectonics.

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    $\begingroup$ The steel you quote comes from material already on the planet, so steel creation doesn't count. (Your answer is otherwise fine, I just wanted to point it out.) $\endgroup$ – xxbbcc Jan 5 '16 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ @xxbbcc, yes, the point was that 100,000 tons would be tiny. It would be a lot easier to 'create' steel than mine it and refine it... $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Jan 5 '16 at 21:31
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It would be an end to scarcity.

Currency would go away, and instead everything would be measured by the KWh.

It will also lead to a diaspora. Space flight would be really cheap:
Launch a power source like a reactor into space along with one of the machines.
Print a ship yard.
Print a space ship.
Print another printer.
Print fuel.
Fly to Mars.
Print a space station.
Print landing craft.
Print another printer and send it down to the surface.
Print a Mars base.
Head toward Titan.
Repeat.
Etc.

In only a few years humanity would stretch out to every planet, moon, and large rock, enabled by printers printing printers.

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    $\begingroup$ Nobody ever stated that the printed material would make lives objectively better. 100,000 tons per year of Justin Bieber DVDs, mood rings and pet rocks would not, in any obvious way, aid the space program. $\endgroup$ – WhatRoughBeast Jan 5 '16 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ It also could do nothing to remove service scarcity only goods (physical object scarcity). I could make a candy bar for you but not preform surgery on you. $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Jan 5 '16 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ @WhatRoughBeast where did I say it would make things better? Money doesn't buy happiness. A lot of people would print crap, but that's nothing new. I think after a while people would get tired of junk, but that's just my opinion. Just because some people would squander it does not mean it wouldn't be used for great things too. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jan 5 '16 at 22:48
  • $\begingroup$ @sdrawkcabdear where it would help is free people up to do more stuff, follow their dreams, become doctors maybe. I'd still have a house payment, so I'd still have to work (property would still be a finite resource too, until people started moving off earth). But removing goods/resources scarcity would still go a long way toward fixing those problems. Smart people could design new stuff to earn a living. Others would go into service positions, filling that gap. First year or two would suck as factories closed everywhere and the economy tanked. Then it would get better. $\endgroup$ – AndyD273 Jan 5 '16 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ @AndyD273 ending material scarcity does have value but, I was just pointing out it only ends a specific type of scarcity not all types of scarcity, as is implied by the unqualified line "It would be an end to scarcity". $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Jan 5 '16 at 23:37

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