In 3D Printing, Jenome, and Our Bright Future, we discussed the ways that humans will use synthetic restrictions on the exercise of power--such as intellectual property regimes--to prevent Terran technology bringing peace and plenty to Terra. We did so by considering a thought experiment, which posed and then answered the question, "If someone lived on a planet where the reorganization of matter was everyday technology, how could the planet's societies be regulated so as to perpetuate want and conflict?"
Drawing upon that hypothetical--the hypothetical of "fooders" being legally prevented from generating their own power, or from producing food without the payment of rents to a parasite/creditor class--we can make some predictions about Earth 2015, which faces a situation where technological development (still going, despite a massive worldwide campaign of organizing marketplaces designed to cripple it) will eventually require parasites to reorganize the details of society in order to perpetuate pain, caste, and credit.
The fooder example noted how widespread food security was cleverly prevented by using fearmongering tactics--specifically, safety issues pertaining to the unlicensed generation of power, which ensured the stability of a finance system bolstering the perpetual rents of a parasite class. In short, the ability to produce endless bounty can be made worthless by making up legal and financial systems that disallow the production of endless bounty. We've seen this on Earth since stories about the planet's "Chosen owners" were made up in order to justify the entitlement of perpetual rents to perpetual owners. The philosophy has proven quite resilient, resulting a few thousand years later in every single atom of the planet being deemed under the imaginary jurisdiction of one or more Rentier collectives, e.g., subject to dark enchantments known as "ownership." Concepts of Chosen ownership have morphed extensively since their exception, embracing first merely the right to control land, mating, and animals, and now extending to the right to determine which pieces of electronic data may be transmitted in which ways across which microscopic subdivisions of space. Ludicrous, yes, but no more ludicrous than the lack of a requirement to pay global per capita dividends to Terran citizens for the extraction of the planet's combustible oozings.
How will these techniques be further developed to control the use of power, in order to prevent people from independently generating power with which they can adjust particles so as to produce ("3D print" or whatever dumbass term they come up with at the time) the stuff they need? Well, let's make a few predictions:
Crisis. Rentiers are always warning about some new horror; some new falling of the sky. Oh no, the darkies have taken the holy lands; oh no, the Normans want your women; oh no, Saddam is planning to kamikaze-nuke the Topeka Public library. So whatever method the Rentiers use to control independent worldwide power generation, it'll be predicated on some kind of crisis. The world is going to end, they'll say, unless we give the Rentiers the power to stop us from generating power.
Management. The Rentiers can always save us from whatever the crisis is--we just need to give them more power, and believe in their legitimacy as they prevent us from doing whatever it is will bring about the end of the world. The Rentiers should advertise a giant crisis of some kind--building it up over decades, or centuries, if necessary--and take a lot of money to study the crisis before discovering how to fix it by restricting our ability to use power.
Sacrifice. Resolving the crisis will involve a lot of sacrifice on our part, as it always must. The Rentiers will sacrifice too--as I like to say, "one fewer BMW in the 12 car garage." Although realistically, they won't even have to cut back on the BMW. What is important about this sacrifice, though, is that it will involve permitting the Rentiers to intrude into our private lives in some way that will prevent us generating our own power freely, with which we might, in theory, 3D print stuff that could make us less dependent on the Rentiers' network of power and/or stuff.
Power specifically. Rentiers manage by, at some point in the crisis resolution, going directly after what they were only playing about to begin with. Like witch trials or patriot acts, eventually the game really gets going. At some point, Rentiers will announce that they know the specifics of how to save us from Crisis, and that these specifics will involve controlling the use of power. Power is always important, but previously, it required large-scale, highly-visible infrastructure to generate and store. That kind of thing could be easily controlled by the nations that Rentiers had already developed to control other things. When power generation becomes smaller and more independent, it will suddenly become absolutely imperative for Rentiers to regulate it in order to Save The World.
At that point, everything will change. The specter of people generating and using power without large-scale, highly-visible infrastructure is as mortally threatening to Rentiers as un-trackable barter economies or independent currencies. Power generation--which would have been previously championed by every aspect of Rentier society--will be increasingly presented as a frightening, dangerous thing, from which we must be protected.
Exchange systems. A complicated exchange system will be necessary to administer the sacrifices everyone will need to make in order to Save The World from Crisis. Rentiers enjoy weighing, measuring, and calculating, because they can't produce anything of value by themselves--they can only dissect, and occasionally modify, what others have created. Independent of that enjoyment, they know that highly elaborate exchange systems are their salvation. By developing an arcane morass of regulations governing how their controls over power can be measured, tabulated, traded, graded, etc., they will build so much uncertainty into the system that they can produce millions of salary-drawing jobs necessary to understand and safeguard the system. They can create enough interpretive confusion and plausible disagreement to allow themselves to not be impaired by the rules that restrict others. This will give them effective control over the markets created by their exchange system.
So, if this theory holds, we should notice the following correlations:
As "3D printing"-type technology, and power generation technology, become more viable and more independent of large-scale industry, governments should become increasingly alarmed about some longstanding crisis. Because the crisis will be make-believe, whatever it is, its history will be littered with dire predictions that never came true. But Rentier governments will disregard this and make up even more dire warnings, insisting that the sky will fall unless they are given power to control licensing standards and power generation.
Controlling only one population is not enough, because people can (still) occasionally move to new places. So governments will need to come together in a global sense in order to ensure that independent power-generators cannot leave their territory, set up shop somewhere else, and produce enough milk and honey to feed the world. Governments will need some kind of gigantic power-specific exchange system--an incredibly complicated one that generates millions of make-work jobs paid for at public expense--which will regulate power generation and power transfer, and which will establish a trend of preventing the free exchange of information, so that people can't just produce their own cars, houses, heaters, food, etc., without paying constant rents to the magical owner/regulators of architectural coding, recipe coding, etc.
And throughout it all, any arguments in favor of "freedom" or whatnot will be met with the Crisis, namely, this is necessary to Save The World from Crisis, therefore you must use Our Brand of Certified Safe Power or you are the enemy of humanity and will be destroyed if you resist.