A bit of geek news on Slashdot this past week provided me with a small case of future shock and reminded me of a story I read many years ago. Here’s the news link:
Back in 1975, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote a classic hard science fiction novel called “The Mote in God’s Eye”.
In one scene, an alien “engineer” was shown a damaged electronic control panel and, after studying it for a few moments, he took out something like a toothpaste tube and squeezed a thin line on a burnt circuit board. With a bit of poking and prodding, this paste automatically flowed into position, repairing the damaged areas in an almost biologic manner. This scene has stuck in my head ever since.
Similar reports from several organizations around the world point to inkjet-printable solar cells or flexible solar ‘cloth’ becoming commonplace in the near future. Combine that technology with self-assembling microcircuits and we might be facing the loss of huge segments of the electronics manufacturing industry.
What do you think? Are these latest developments on the way to making flexible computer systems on-demand, from a tube of paste? If so, what does this mean for all those Asian manufacturers?