Amazon is the largest online retailer in the world with $100 billion in revenue during 2015 (FYE September, 2015). That’s some serious candy.
When a company builds a foundation that leads to continuous growth/improvement, then the founder/board usually begins thinking about long-term projects. The pressure to survive evolves to a new creative realm where the corporation goes into new areas–perhaps new industries.
The founder and CEO of Amazon is Jeff Bezos. He is in a unique position, like contemporary Elon Musk, of having so much money in reserve that there’s actually nothing he can’t do. The question is what to do. Continue to gobble up smaller companies and become weighted down with bloat? Or funnel that money into new endeavors?
I’m not going into social science or business strategy. My thoughts are centered around a science fiction series I started in 2015 with the first volume, The Mandate of Earth. This novel is about men like Bezos and Musk, and what they will do with their fortunes. Live the high life of extreme luxury and excess? Spoil their families? Sure, probably some of that. But even that grows old when there is no limit to one’s bank account. Imagine the credit limits! Not that such men need credit.
This novel features a character inspired by such men, by the name of Jack Seerva. Not ironically, I published this novel through Amazon and CreateSpace. But this is not a promotional piece. In Mandate, Jack Seerva builds an infrastructure (like Bezos’ and Musk’s companies) that allows him to invest in space technology–to hire the best scientists and engineers.
Seerva’s first rocket launch sends an automated mining machine to a nearby asteroid to tear it apart and fabricate a space station out of the raw materials–a space station with breathable atmosphere, with air processing, with liquid water, and with a hydrogen-powered generator (aka new-tech reactor).
It’s the tech crammed into that “automated mining machine” that is the key here: Seerva’s people have developed a nanofiber construction method (aka “3D printing“) that can build large square construction panels (basically walls) which are used for everything from new ships to space stations. Put 6 wall panels together and you have a room.
The material is carbon nanotube, a relative of carbon fiber. I occasionally refer to it as nanofiber. It’s not really unbelievable high-tech gobbledegook like one often finds in a sci-fi novel: it’s based on current technology, some new theories, some speculation. Might not be possible exactly as written right now but will be, in one form or another, within 10 years, give or take.
That could very well open up the solar system to human colonization and work in space–safely, efficiently, and most importantly, profitably.
In fact, profits may be so enormous that the entire global scales of revenues and profit may have to be adjusted by a couple orders of magnitude upward just to account for it. That $100 billion in Amazon revenue?
Imagine the taxes paid on that… the government loves this company. They can build about 10 F-35 fighters just from Bezos’ corporate taxes. (Scary how much the government wastes).
Which also brings into question: who, exactly, has the right to tax anything happening away from Earth? Well, if the corporate headquarters is in the U.S., then that where the money flows. Will corporations relocate off-planet to avoid taxes? You betcha! And, within a few years, we have the plot of Heinlein’s masterwork, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, actually a possibility.
Let’s pull back on the reins a bit here and return to Earth in the present day. This tech is not just possible, it’s already here, with NASA and the ESA talking about it. My ideas set forth in Mandate aren’t too revolutionary that no one else will think it through.
I’ve made a fictional story out of a simplified plot on how it might be done. That’s kind of hard, with all the tech. The book needs a revision, frankly.
Guys like Bezos and Musk are talking about Mars, but that’s not nearly as important as near-Earth asteroid mining. Mars is a couple steps down the road, unless it gets rushed for PR reasons (walking on Mars is a pretty big dream for most people, but I personally would rather see a space station in orbit with a nanofiber machine and shipyard cranking out spacecraft).
What about … tomorrow? Instead of … like … next year? Tomorrow, if Amazon were to invest into 3D printing tech in order to design an affordable next-gen machine (capable of producing printed circuits as well as plasticy-looking gears and bobbles), then what might be the next logical step?
No more shipping of some types of products. No more manufacturing and warehousing of certain types of goods, like toys. Amazon has already done it with books, revolutionizing the world with the Kindle ereader platform (of which I’m a huge fan).
Who would have thought this possible 15 years ago?
Even 10 years ago the tech was infantile, clunky, expensive. Today, you can get a backlit high-def ereader such as Kindle Paperwhite, for a C-note.
So, why not a next-gen 3D printer (e.g. “Your very own automated space factory, home edition”)? How would you purchase things for Split-Second Delivery? There would be a blueprint file that your printer would receive in the same manner that your Kindle receives a new ebook: wirelessly over wifi. It would begin printing immediately, or queue it up, per your preferences.
The DRM of a “purchased” home factory product is a license to print it once, while the DRM will be built into the device, limited to one use only. Want another one? Fine, buy another one, receive a new key, and off it goes to your printer.
This is the future. I just wonder how long it will take for guys like Bezos and Musk to come up with a home model? It’s a safe bet they’re already working on it, if Amazon is playing with the idea of aerial shipping drones via “Amazon Prime Air“.
Wow, don’t you just love inventors, entrepreneurs? Now I just need to get one of these guys to mention my novel in a tweet…. I’m still working on the survival thing….
What do you think of the possibilities? Crazy sci-fi stuff or reality in the next 10 years? Please share your opinion!