Marcin Jakubowski: Open Source Inventor

On Factor e Farm in Missouri, Marcin Jakubowski’s brainchild, Open Source Ecology, develops farm machinery and shares the designs in the Global Village Construction Set.
By Ben Sauder
November/December 2012
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Marcin Jakubowski
Photo Courtesy Marcin Jakubowski

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Marcin Jakubowski was a broke farmer with a PhD in fusion energy. Lacking the money to build the small farm and settlement he envisioned, Jakubowski identified the 50 most important machines for modern life to exist and set out to build them cheaply and efficiently. Open Source Ecology, the company he founded to complete this Global Village Construction Set, would not operate as a typical business motivated by profit, but instead would apply the open source principles of free distribution of product design and implementation so that anybody with a computer could benefit from their work. Dr. Jakubowski believes that the ramifications of this project could be enormous.

“If we can lower the barriers to farming, building, and manufacturing, then we can unleash massive amounts of human potential,” he says. Jakubowski stresses that society today is operated under a scarcity-based economy, where the distribution of natural resources is greatly imbalanced.

With the Global Village Construction Set, the cost of the various machines is reduced on average by eight-fold from the industry standards, effectively putting the means of production into anyone’s hands. So far the team, which is based on a small plot of land in rural Missouri called the Factor e Farm, has completed four beta-stage machines including a tractor, a soil pulverizer, a compressed earth brick press, and a multipurpose hydraulic power unit called the power cube.

Since Dr. Jakubowski gave a TED Talk about his dream of a “post-scarcity economy” in 2011, the word has spread and gained traction among like-minded people. Recently, Open Source Ecology has begun a more rapid development of the next set of tools in the Global Village Construction Set thanks to an increase in funding. Jakubowski and his team are aiming to do nothing less than radically transform the pervasive material imbalance observed throughout the world into something better. “If this idea is truly sound, then the implications are significant. A greater distribution of the means of production, environmentally sound supply chains, and a newly relevant DIY maker culture can hope to transcend artificial scarcity.”

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