In addition to great entertainment and merchants you’ve likely noticed there’s a lot of focus on technology at AgoraFest. This isn’t by accident. Discussing theory is good, and there will be some of that at AgoraFest, but the future belongs to those who build it and AgoraFest, ultimately, is about building a better future.
Agorism is more than strategy to withhold resources from the State. It’s also a strategy to provide alternative markets to the ones tainted by the State. As Konkin once said, “If the State had been abolished a century ago, we’d all have robots and summer homes in the asteroid belt.” Even though technology is advancing at an exponential pace it isn’t advancing as quickly as it could be.
Manufacturing is a market where the State’s interference through environmental regulations, building permits, zoning laws, and other restrictions has caused substantial harm. What enables the State to enforce these restrictions is the centralized nature of manufacturing. It’s a simple matter for the State to find large factories, send in its troops, and force its will upon the workers and owners. But the State isn’t as effective at finding small, decentralized manufacturers. A tremendous amount of resources is needed to search every home, garage, and abandoned building. The limitation for small manufacturers has been tooling. Tooling for manufacturing is usually specialized and expensive. 3D printers stand to change that.
Although computerized numeric control (CNC) machines have generalized a lot of manufacturing they tend to still be expensive and require a lot of specialized software and knowledge. A high quality 3D printer can be had for around $2,000. Software to design printable objects is available for free and is so simplified anybody can learn how to use it. Most consumer 3D printers make use of various plastics as building materials, which are both durable and inexpensive. As the technology improves so will the ability of individuals to manufacture more and more of the goods they need from the comfort, and privacy, of their own home. By decentralizing manufacturing the State’s ability to restrict the development of new goods will be greatly reduced.
3D printer designs take the form of computer-aided design (CAD) files. Unless every individual with a 3D printer wants to design CAD files from scratch they need a network to share files with other 3D printer owners. Today these files are shared across the Internet. The Internet today, sadly, has been heavily centralized. For most people getting Internet access requires doing business with an Internet service provider (ISP). Due to State restrictions most areas are only serviced by one or two ISPs. This centralization has been exploited by the State to spy on everybody. Mesh networks can decentralize Internet access, which would make it much harder for the state to intercept or interfere with communications.
Mesh networks are simple in nature. Like any network a mesh network exists as a series of interconnected nodes. What sets a mesh network apart from more centralized networks is each node connects to as many other nodes as possible. That level of interconnection both increases redundancy and reduces the importance of any individual node. This makes mesh networks more resilient to censorship as the amount of damage cause by shutting down any individual node is very limited. It also makes surveillance more difficult because there are no centralized nodes all data has to traverse through. AgoraFest’s mesh network is a proof of concept. Put together with off-the-shelf networking equipment and freely available open source firmware the AgoraFest network demonstrates that mesh networks are not only easy to build but affordable as well. There’s no reason entire neighborhoods can’t create local mesh networks and interconnect them with other neighborhood networks until entire regions enjoy decentralized Internet connectivity.
Although it’s extremely resource intensive for the State to take down large numbers of mesh nodes it is feasible. That’s where rocketry comes in. If something exists terrestrially the State has proven adept at finding and eliminating it. The same can’t be said for space. Space, in addition to being the final frontier, is expansive and difficult to get to. What that means is there’s plenty of space to hide things in, especially amongst the junk already in orbit, and getting it down if it’s found is extremely difficult. Imagine a mesh network composed of satellites orbiting the planet. How would the state destroy it? The only practical way would be to shoot down every satellite. The costs of getting all of that ordinance into orbit and hitting every satellite without damaging the satellites the State relies on would be astronomical. If it did take on the task it would likely bankrupt itself and the entire problem of the State would be solved. That’s why the Chaos Computer Club has been looking at launching Internet connected satellites. Model rocketry is the stepping stone between a terrestrial Internet and an Internet in space.
This is why AgoraFest is focusing so much on technology. Through it we can bypass the State and hopefully progress towards those summer homes in the asteroid belt Konkin spoke of.