Page 5's objectives are to contribute to the arsenal of tools being amassed to improve the security of society and to enhance global standards of living by facilitating a renaissance in infrastructure. We believe that Earth’s population will continue to grow and that lifespans will increase. Until the resources of space are tapped, the planet should be seen as a closed ecosystem that is approaching its limit in human carrying capacity. For these reasons, our focus is on reducing energy consumption in sustaining all nature (human, plant and animal life), regardless of how clean or renewable the sources of energy being used are.
We recommend the following link for an excellent article describing the one-way nature of the usefulness of energy sources and the intimate relationship between the physics concept called "entropy" and economic growth:
Approaching the World's Environmental Problems Though the Second Law (Entropy Law) of Thermodynamics
The adverse impact to society of global climate change is widely believed to be progressing in an exponential manner. If left unchecked, many scientists fear that a critical juncture, called a "tipping point", may be reached after which the negative consequences could become irreversible and cataclysmic. While global warming may be related to excessive population growth another critical issue, that of providing high quality yet afforable health care, has a growing shortage of nursing labor as one of its root issues.
According to the Report of the Workshops on The Future of Health Care for Our Aging Population, sponsored by Sandia National Lab's Advanced Concept Group in September 2000; "The population 65 and older...is projected to be 53 million by 2020 and 77 million by 2040. This aging population will place a growing financial burden on the national economy and present a potential danger to national security and well-being".
Other massive-scale threats include such nightmare scenarios as the asteroid Apophis returning with Earth directly in its path or a volcanic spewing that, in a single belch, could trivialize man’s assault on the planet. Depending on its size and time to prepare, diverting an asteroid could require an industrial scale-up making the space race of the '60s look like cottage industry. And despite a mature construction industry, recent natural disasters have reaffirmed that recovery processes tend to be slow, expensive (in both material and human costs) and subject to abuse.
Perhaps we will largely escape coming hardships by breakthroughs in fusion energy, a sudden international consensus as to what is a reasonable standard of living and how best to achieve it and/or unforeseen geologic stability. Page 5, Inc., however, is betting that some limited form of self-replicating technology may be needed.
While construction materials recovered from demolition activities are recyclable to some extent, the underpinnings of today's infrastructure are not designed to be reusable or portable. In contrast, repurposeable structural systems endowed with self-assembly capabilities could be invaluable in situations like those described above. Moreover, self-configuring systems may be of critical importance from a timing standpoint in coping with massive population migrations or dyking of entire cities if scientific models projecting rising sea levels turn out to be correct.
Hi-def video telecommunication is becoming more affordable every day. This trend is leading to telepresence and telerobotic solutions being increasingly used to improve the productivity of individuals and enterprises. Reduced environmental burden due to reduced travel, improved emergency response times and general cost/time saving practicality are some of the obvious benefits. However, the technology also holds the potential to support an all-out renaissance in antiquated housing, manufacturing and transportation infrastructure (see Applications). Network economics will drive the introduction of telerobotics to society and, in the process, set the stage for the long-awaited debut of machines with semi-humanoid functionality.
Within the next 10-15 years it is conceivable that millions of mobile machines with hands and arms will be needed, raising questions of how best to manufacture them. The automotive, appliance and electronics industries use mass production to drive down the cost of labor; in some cases, more than 80% of a product's cost is in raw materials. Self-configuring systems will be able to chip away at the remaining 20% in labor and facility overhead by eventually going "lights-out". Factory and site plans that do not need to accommodate human presence will be far more efficient than today's plants. Self-configuring telerobotic architectural systems (see TRACS, X-TRACS) will even make it possible for the manufacture of many products to be integrated within, but invisible to, human occupied spaces.