Originally posted by humy
One day a 3D printer will be both able to and programmed to print out several 3D printers each being identical to itself and each one of those 3D printers will print out several more identical 3D printers and so on and on forever. We could then have both the benefit of use and the nightmare of an unlimited number of 3D printers from just one original one multip ...[text shortened]... rcraft into tall buildings ....OK, I am getting more and more fantastical as I went along there.
That concept was first put out by Von Neuman. They were called Von Neuman machines.
The idea was to launch them into interstellar space with the ability to create itself but many other things, including machines that could be incubators for DNA combinations that would end up putting humans far out into interstellar space, filling the whole galaxy in a few thousand years, where the incubators would also have robots as teachers to bring the new batch of babies up and teach them Earth knowledge so those first kids would only have peers as companions but the next generation would be born normally on a planet that was terraformed thousands of years earlier and so becomes a new home. All at the cost of sending out one Von Neuman machine into interstellar space and it wouldn't matter if it was going 1/1000 ths of the speed of light or at the speed of light, eventually it would reach a star it was aimed at, set up shop on some asteroid, mine it for materials to build more Von Neumans, build new rockets, send that batch off into yet another direction in interstellar space and so forth. All with the information of all life forms on Earth ready to be put together to populate a newly transformed planet.
The main question, similar to Fermi's paradox, why hasn't it already happened? Why don't we see such machines everywhere in our solar system?
BTW, here is another use for 3D printers: