Subject: Re: question about copying small amounts of code from BSD, MIT o r Apache 1.1 licensed open source...
From: Benjamin Rossen <>
Date: Thu, 6 Jan 2005 21:44:12 +0100

On Thursday 06 January 2005 17:23, Russell Nelson wrote:
> writes:
> It's not just a software thing.  Soon (ten years, tops, absolute max,
> no more than, all cynicism intended) we'll have software creating and
> assembling functional objects.  You won't go to the store to buy a
> toaster, you'll download a toaster program and hand it to your machine
> building machine.

I am sure things are going to change, but I do not believe that what you have 
suggested is a possibility soon, and perhaps never. After working on product 
development for many years, I know how extremely difficult it is to design 
something. Rapid prototyping makes it possible to turn out a solid object in 
sintered or laser fused material from software descriptions. But even if you 
are a professional product designer, you must go through many design 
iterations before arriving at something that works, that looks nice, and that 
can be manufactured. The process of protyping is very expensive. 

One of my projects was concerned with the design and testing of an 
ergonomically improved keyboard for professional data entry typists. We went 
through 31 design iterations before making six of them for a field trial. The 
design process required not only expert knowledge of how to use CAD solid 
modeling software, knowledge of plastic design, molds, of wall thickness in 
relation to material strengths, of clickable design for ease of assembly for 
when (and if) it went into production, and so on and on. These six models 
(only the last in the series) cost more than my automobile at its new price 
to make by laser sintering in polyamice, paint, finish, assemble, and test. 
Each model, that is. Each prototyped keyboard cost more than a new family 
sedan, and it took me years to get to the final design. That is what making 
objects from drawings costs. You can see some of this on my web site: 
Click on the keyboard icon, right of the seated person icon. 

Many great and wonderful things shall happen, but whipping up toasters is, I 
believe, not one of them. 

An equivalent idea, I suppose, is the suggestion that we might be able to have 
voice recognition software thay could listen into to our software requests, 
what generates UML, and that these shall be executable. You want a new kind 
of word processor? Just tell you computer what you want and it shall script, 
debug, compile and install it for you. That is the equivalent, I think, of 
whipping up toasters. 

But do not let me be a damp squib. You might be right. You just might be 

Benjamin Rossen
Lindenhof 56 
The Netherlands
+31 40 2913 797