Replicator Economics

Discussion in 'Deep Space Nine' started by JirinPanthosa, Dec 5, 2012.

  1. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    One of the biggest mistakes I think DS9 made in its run was presenting the Farengi economy like the 20th century Earth economy only with 'futury' sounding words. Oh, it's not platinum, it's 'latinum', a precious metal that for some reason we can not replicate and is never explained why it is considered so precious.

    With the existance of replicators, shouldn't the entire structure of the economy have to be re-imagined? Why should somebody pay latinum for self sealing stembolts when they can just go to a replicator and make them? They could have had an entire episode detailing how the farengi became a huge economy because with the invention of the replicators they were the first to adapt to the new economic model.

    Nog guffawed at the idea of trading for land, but in a world with no scarcity, wouldn't land be the most scarce good there is? Wouldn't they market non-replicated goods as 'luxury' items, or maybe even try to sell subscriptions to replicator plans instead of selling physical objects? Like, play five bars of latinum a month and you get to be the first ones to be able to replicate new items.

    That seems like a major missed opportunity, that instead of trying to imagine a futuristic economy they did a simple word-swap on a modern one.
     
  2. Jerikka Dawn

    Jerikka Dawn Commander Red Shirt

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    Perhaps all replicators require latinum to function. That solves a host of problems.
     
  3. Nightdiamond

    Nightdiamond Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I've always been skeptical of this idea. And people committing crimes for money when they know there are replicators available?


    It's hard to understand the 'some things can't be replicated' concept.

    My theory is, if you can transport it through a transporter, you can also replicate it.
     
  4. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I came up with this JirinPanthosa.

    Let's say you want one kilogram of antimatter. And you have a replicator connected to a matter/antimatter reactor. How many kilograms of antimatter are you going to "burn" in the m/am reactor to produce one kilogram of antimatter in the replicator. One for one? More?

    If your using up five or ten kilos of antimatter, to make one kilo in the replicator, then producing the antimatter some other way makes more sense.

    It's the same way with the stem bolts. Trading the land for the stem bolts is 'cheaper" than paying the price of replicating them.

    We see people in Star Trek still engaged in mining. So if you need a million tonnes of some metal, it's more desirable to obtain those metals through extracting it from rock, transporting it across interstellar distances, and forming them into a shape --- than having the metal replicated. It's more economical.

    :)
     
  5. Romulan_spy

    Romulan_spy Commodore Commodore

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    That makes perfect sense. When we see replicators used, it is mostly for those basic needs like food and clothing. I always got the idea from watching different Trek episodes that replicators did not eliminate the need for currency, but eliminated poverty by providing a cheap way to meet basic and common needs. No longer were people poor because they did not even have the money for basic things.
     
  6. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    There are such things as "industrial replicators". Apparently one is enough to supply industrial needs for a planet like Bajor, and four could help the Cardassians bounce back from the Klingon invasion.

    I imagine those industrial replicators would fabricate large but simple pieces for subsequent assembly.
     
  7. snakespeare

    snakespeare Commander Red Shirt

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    It was 2 for Bajor and 12 for "over a dozen worlds" in the Cardassian Empire, fwiw. I know because we just watched "For the Cause" last night.

    To the OP: The economy of DS9 was established before the arrival of the Federation. I think Starfleet brought the replicators and the Replimat with them.
     
  8. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    Damn, I'm usually not that far off. I guess four did seem too few. One or two per planet, though, seems to be the norm. Though, MA says that the Cardassians/Dominion gave Bajor 15 industrial replicators when they were occupying the station. Seems like quite a lot for one planet. I guess the Vorta really wanted to be friends.
     
  9. Triskelion

    Triskelion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Where Trek went wrong was the Picard line noting "economic systems" as a thing of the past.


    That's like saying "energy" was a thing of the past.

    He may have been referring to "currency-based economies" but competition for resources was clearly a 24th century reality. The Barzan wormhole, for example. Stubbs' egg, for example - where the resource was knowledge, and then the right to live in peace. Countless bids for vaccines and weapons. Just a few examples off the top of my head.

    Economics = the physics of desire. Conservation of energy. Equal and opposite reactions. Economic laws still at work. Still plenty of resources to compete for in the future. Captaincy of a starship, for example.


    I sometimes wonder about this topic, it is fascinating! For instance, in reality if there were replicators, the first thing people would replicate would be replicator-disrupting devices - and of course, sell the anti-disruption solutions.

    This question makes me wonder one thing: can the medical industry allow cures for disease?
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2012
  10. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I believe the Cardassians already possessed replicator technology, there were replicators on the station before Starfleet arrived, at least in a few places.

    Whatever natural resources the Cardassians were extracting from Bajor, the replicators couldn't produce those resources. Not at the same cost, or in the same volume.

    :)
     
  11. commanderkai

    commanderkai Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I always figured a part of the issue was quality control. Throughout the series, non-replicated food is held to a higher quality and standard compared to replicated food. I always figured it also played a role for other products as well. Even though replicated food solved hunger, food that's actually grown is significantly tastier.

    I mean, supposedly, Voyager only had (I think) 53 Photon torpedoes when it arrived in the Delta Quadrant, and they made it sound like they couldn't replace them, even with replicator technology on the ship. Yeah yeah, I know they went through way more than 53 Photon torpedoes in the ship, but I remember it being brought up. I figured a part of the reason was because either A) Photon torpedoes are inherently less reliable, or B) They're unable to replicate some component to the torpedo.
     
  12. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    But the ship did not have replicator technology - that was the point. When Janeway said that there were 38 torps aboard, and no way to replace them when they were gone, the ship was still suffering from the damage she had received when the Caretaker transported her to the Delta Quadrant.

    Later in the show, the ship had access to the port facilities of cultures far more advanced than those dominating the Kazon lands. Supposedly, the replicators started working just fine, too. Janeway still kept the "replicator rations" as a disciplinary measure for some time, but it makes sense that the ship would gradually grow more self-sufficient again.

    In DS9 "Tribunal", it was considered plausible that the Maquis would want to steal empty photon torpedo warheads, even though we have every reason to think the Maquis would have access to at least food replicators. Supposedly, then, the warheads would be non-trivial to manufacture.

    Granted, the Maquis would later go and steal industrial-grade replicators in "For the Cause", suggesting their logistical situation before the theft might have differed from that of Starfleet, which supposedly enjoys regular access to such technology.

    As for replicated food being inferior to "real", I think it's just empty talk. We never see a character recognize a food for replicated by the taste, after all.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  13. Triskelion

    Triskelion Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    ^Hm, I'm a 20th century-born planetbound average person. I'm transported to the other side of the galaxy with a limited supply of weapons.

    What to do, what to do....

    I know! Traverse the galaxy with what I have in my pocket!

    :D
     
  14. Ln X

    Ln X Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Replicators required energy to work and the materials to build, plus replicators could not produce energy itself, and for those reasons you can't solely have a economy based entirely on replicators themselves. You need fuel sources: hydrogen (for nuclear fusion; something which is used a lot in Star Trek -- think impulse drives), deuterium and whatever solid-state or gaseous energy resources are out there. Plus the various metals to build a replicator.

    Furthermore replicators are very energy consuming so in terms of mining and farming, if it expends less energy to extract minerals from planetoids and planting crops or growing them in hydroponic facilities, then that's what will happen in such an economy. In any time, place or situation, the means to extract the most resources with the least amount of energy expended will nearly always be chosen.

    On the subject of latinum, perhaps it can be replicated however replicated latinum does not possess all the qualities of real latinum. Consider synthetic diamonds; yes we can produce them, but synthetic diamonds do not have internal refractive light patterns of real diamonds and such a quality is one which adds considerably to a real diamond's value. So if replicated latinum is not as valuable as real latinum, then real latinum will be used for a) it's appeal (just like our race's fascination with gold and diamonds), and b) it's scarcity thus making it very valuable.

    Finally replicators don't duplicate objects and materials, they assemble them according to a specific set of programs. This is an important difference because it explains why characters complain about replicated food, or why replicators can't make certain items or complex ones. If a device could perfectly duplicate objects, would that make it a duplicator?
     
  15. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I wouldn't think that it would. The replicator would consume energy when recycling items back into base materials.

    I don't believe the Federation's economy is based solely upon the replicator. There would be other means of producing things.

    Riker: "You've seen something as fresh and tasty as meat, but inorganically materialised ..."

    Sounds yummy.

    The replicator makes a lot of sense under certain conditions. If you're going to be aboard a starship, out in the middle of no-where for years on end, the replicator is better than hauling enough food for everyone aboard the ship. The 1,019 people aboard the Enterprise Dee would eat about one thousand tonnes of food a year, and three quarters of a million liters of fluids. 1 Liter equals 1 Kilogram. The inclusion of a replicator extends a ships range and utility. The same would apply for a space station.

    But what about people living on a planet? There is evidence that farming does take place, even on high tech Earth. And the harvesting of fish. Do the people of Earth get the majority of their food from replicators? Or from tradition sources?

    :)
     
  16. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    A household replicator doesn't require much of a support infrastructure, it seems. After all, Picard was going to donate one to the Uxbridges in "The Survivors": a fridge-sized thing supposedly perfectly capable of keeping the elderly couple supplied, on a planet where the only bit of infrastructure still standing was their own house, and the only bit of arable land was their lawn!

    We have never heard of the Federation at large suffering from energy shortages. Supposedly, there are trivially easy and cheap means to extract endless energy from the environment, and the only sort of shortage that may hit you is a short-duration inability to get a sufficient power output for a key application after significant damage is suffered. And "The Survivors" would appear to indicate that the endless energy supplies a typical colonial household directly taps are enough to run a food replicator for the needs of two people.

    I gather a food replicator is an option, much like a washing machine is today. But only freaks will go without one, and nobody has to go without one. Even the colonies from which the Maquis movement arose used food replicators ("Preemptive Strike")...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  17. FreddyE

    FreddyE Captain Captain

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    Actually cooking yourself seems to be seen weird and even "yucky" by some people. I remember Keiko saying something like: "She TOUCHED it and PREPARED it?"...with a disgusted look.
     
  18. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    But, didn't Picard himself describe that replicator as "limited?"

    Riker loved to cook, O'Brien could, both Joseph and Ben Sisko, the Picard family, all made food.

    If Robert and Marie won't have a replicator in their house, does it make any sense that they would travel into town to buy replicate food to prepare in their kitchen?

    :borg:
     
  19. Timo

    Timo Admiral Admiral

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    ...Limited to providing the couple with everything they need to survive: clothing, food and water. At no energy cost, apparently, beyond what the household itself could provide.

    It's a bit difficult to imagine a quantum leap in power consumption just for the added capacity of replicating complex machine parts or whatever; the "limited" machine is already performing full-fledged miracles in creating "natural" flavors and textures.

    Also interesting is that the machine will provide water; this sort of goes against the idea that it would be converting existing matter. Just about any conversion process imaginable (say, from the silicates of the sand to water) would be basically as energy-expensive as materializing H2O out of pure energy, as it would involve complete transmutation of elements. And conversely, one can think of dozens of ways to cheaply get clean water out of the Class M environment without having to resort either to conversion-type replication or synthesis from pure energy, suggesting that replication isn't significantly more expensive than those processes.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  20. Saturn0660

    Saturn0660 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Maybe every home has a mini fusion plant in the basement. Not had to believe you can just hook it up. Much like adding an A/C to todays home. You may need to upgrade your service to run one. But i'm sure Mr. LaForge would have that done in 5min flat. I would also guess you can fill the thing with simple dirt to get what you need out of it.

    But i would also guess home replicators are SLOW. You may very well get a glass of cold water out of it. But who's to say it wouldn't take 10min to get it.