September 1, 2014
August 29, 2014
Toronto may be getting a new Waterfront LRT line
Building the perfect Shoebox
Billy Bishop Airport on the selling block
The “Purrari” has been painted white
Have you seen the Toronto Zoo’s baby Burmese star tortoise?
The Pirate Bay's New Plan to Destroy Capitalism
The piracy giant's offering up an idea that, if it goes right, could topple the economy and change digital exchange as we know it.

Since those lovable rapscallions at the Pirate Bay are known as much for their utopian, post-copyright whimsy as for being a bastion of piracy, then someone should give them some gold coins for their latest move, which–wait for it–wants to see people downloading physical goods.

If that sounds crazy that’s because it mostly is. It’s all a bit theoretical at the moment, but the Pirate Bay’s new “physibles” section seeks to spread digital 3D blueprints that people can, in theory at least, “print” at home, using 3D printing. If you’ve never heard of that before (and who would blame you?), 3D printers are machines that accept a blueprint for, say, a mug or a model car (or, as in this demo, a wrench), and then actually produce it using liquid plastics or by layering materials on top of one another. It isn’t quite like saying “Earl Grey, hot” as one would to the replicators from Star Trek, but it’s far out there stuff that will only get better and cheaper over time.

The Pirate Bay and their future-fancy visions are looking to push the idea into the public consciousness a bit. And good for them, ’cause it’s a funny, if slightly unsettling little concept that’s worth thinking about. After all, as local writer Tim Maly points out in a delightfully provocative set of ideas, the mass spread of 3D printing and digital plans enables a kind of “teleportation.” To wit, in a few decades from now, it may not be totally insane to say “Oh, do you like this purse? Here, let me email it to you.” (Depending on the purse in question, of course.)

Sure, it’s all vastly premature. But as Fast Company suggests, the very notions of property, both intellectual and physical, get upset if you can just download objects willy-nilly. Think about it: our economic system is largely based on the idea that, given our inability to create everything we need, we exchange currency in order to receive the things we need. If that becomes even slightly less necessary, you can see where this might go. Will high-end consumer goods still be desirable when there is no line between “authentic” and “fake?” Will labour still need to be outsourced when machines are cheaper than (uh, brown) people? How does capitalism, which is based on trading goods for money, even work when all you really need is a 3D printer?

But even if this is all totally impractical and far-fetched right now, it does point to the fact that the ambivalent revolutionary potential of digital is not simply in “how we consume music” or “look up facts,” but may actually be about our economic system and how we live our day-to-day lives.  And how ironic is it that the end of capitalism might come about because of something you can print.

Navneet Alang is Toronto Standard’s tech critic. You can follow him on Twitter @navalang.

Subscribe to our newsletter.


  • TOP STORIES
  • MOST COMMENTED
  • RECENT
By Igor Bonifacic
August 6th, 2014
Editors Pick Bellwoods Brewery set to expand to a new location(!)
Read More
By Dylan Freeman-Grist
August 15th, 2014
Editors Pick The George Street Diner: A Love Story
Read More
By Igor Bonifacic
August 19th, 2014
Editors Pick Toronto is Forbes' 10th most influential city of 2014
Read More
By JJ Wong
August 13th, 2014
Editors Pick The (cuddly) call of Cthulhu
Read More
  • No article found.
  • By Igor Bonifacic
    August 29th, 2014
    Editors Pick Toronto may be getting a new Waterfront LRT line
    Read More
    By Dylan Freeman-Grist
    August 29th, 2014
    Editors Pick Building the perfect Shoebox
    Read More
    By Igor Bonifacic
    August 29th, 2014
    Editors Pick Billy Bishop Airport on the selling block
    Read More
    By Igor Bonifacic
    August 29th, 2014
    Editors Pick The "Purrari" has been painted white
    Read More

    SOCIETY SNAPS

    Society Snaps: Eric S. Margolis Foundation Launch

    Kristin Davis moved Toronto's philanthroists to tears ... then sent them all home with a baby elephant - Read More