Mar 13 2012

How to Recreate Civilization From Scratch: Open Source Ecology


As wonderful as extreme tech can be, its existence depends on more mundane tech. Your computer is useless without a source of electricity, and you are useless without a source of food.

Marcin Jakubowski knows this, and a lot more. Realizing that his PhD in fusion energy was “useless,” Jakubowski started a farm in Missouri, but went broke trying to keep his tractor repaired. Having to build his own tractor inspired him to start Open Source Ecology, a network dedicated to creating an open source economy that uses resources sustainably without giving up modern comforts. Think classic Whole Earth Catalog, but even more hardcore: e.g., using a CNC precision multimachine to build things using aluminum you’ve extracted from clay.

Open Source Ecology intends to create a Global Village Construction Set (GVCS): a low-cost, DIY, open source, modular, user-serviceable platform for fabricating 50 essential machines needed to build a self-sustaining economy. This includes farm implements like a tractor and a baler, a 3D scanner and printer, a windmill, a compressed earth brick press, and even a car. Their successful Kickstarter project raised $63,573 to create a Civilization Starter Kit DVD, now released in version 0.01.

A post-scarcity economy without a Singularity? Perhaps. Whether or not they achieve their goal of “small, independent, land-based economies,” OSE could benefit poor farmers around the world and provide an invaluable resource in the event of a planet-wide catastrophe. Preppers (née survivalists) take note! Just make sure you can play that DVD after your electricity goes out.