The Humblefactory Lab
The Humblefactory is a design lab in Seattle, Washington which develops and publishes techniques and technologies to support a de-centralized, non-fossil fueled, post-industrial long-term human civilization.
Here are just a few of the projects we are working on right now:
"Root Control" Manufacturing
The open source movement is making exciting strides toward producing objects which can be built by anyone who needs them. However, fundamental barriers still exist because of the uneven distribution of raw materials – metals, petroleum, rare earth elements – in the earth's surface.
This line of research aims to work around these restrictions by making products which can be produced entirely from materials derived from plants and animals which co-exist in a self supporting ecology. That way, starting a new factory just means sharing a collection of seeds, cuttings, and juvenile animals – nothing to tie it to any place on earth.
Discrete A.I. Tools
Artificial Intelligence has the capacity to transform the capability of individual makers in contexts around the world – but only if we ensure that it isn't instead leveraged by the capital class into another rentable asset. Current cloud based A.I. solutions are leading us toward this potentiality.
As an alternative direction, The Humblefactory is exploring the creation of unique custom-trained A.I. objects which must be cared for like any normal tool, and which conform to the proclivities of their operator over time. For example, we have trained a CNN to recognize previously unknown books which belong to the nebulously defined class of "earth-child socialist separatist DIY books of the late 1960s and early 1970s". This A.I. will be housed in a vintage rangefinder camera, so that it can be used to scan the shelves of bookstores.
Cottage industry was effectively destroyed in the late 1800s by the centralization that came with steam powered mills, and stayed with every new power source. Since then, manufacturing technologies have tended to ignore the specialized needs of small makers. There is so much fertile ground for new tools here, and The Humblefactory is on the hunt to develop and open source them.
Our latest effort is a small-scale, hyper-portable 2x4-railed monorail for moving building materials and harvested plant parts around a wooded, steep graded site using a solar-charged, battery powered capstan winch originally meant for homesteading loggers and hunters.