Santa Clause (Santa Claus) Machine

. Santamachine
Image from Steve Bowers

A robust matter compiler employing nano-, meso- micro- and macrotech. Placed on a planetary surface it can build anything out of available material.

What distinguishes a Santa Claus machine from an ordinary matter compiler is that it is programmed to provide any item the user may wish for, only limited by the availability of energy and raw materials in the user's society. Such flexibility requires at least human-level (turingrade) intelligence. A santa machine must be at least as smart as its users, otherwise an unscrupulous user can fool it into manufacturing something dangerous. Most santas are very circumscribed in their abilities or are intelligent enough to decline ethically harmful requests.

Unregulated santas can become very dangerous, and polities that allow uncontrolled Santas and lack very pervasive "immune systems" (be they nanoscale, legal or cliological) - such as some of the more "wild frontier" ultralibertarian baseline and nearbaseline polities, tend to crash in a short period of time.

Similar devices known as Genies are also used in hi-tech cultures in many cultures; Genies differ from Santa Machines in that they are programmed to provide for a single master, or a very small group of customers, while a Santa can provide for a larger customer base.



Note: The name 'santa clause' is believed to refer to a clause in the contract concerning the use of these machines, stating that the user will be liable for any misuse of the technology. A similar clause requires that the user be in sound mind (the sanity clause).

 
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Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev

Initially published on 31 December 2001.