Re: Robin on nanotech-gift economy

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Fri Jan 14 2000 - 10:38:48 MST

Damien Broderick wrote:
> >At the moment, the "manufacturing" industries are less than 18% of GDP, ...
>Yes, but suppose half a `primitive' population (such as California) were
>paid to pray to the gods and perform fertility sorcery, and then a cultural
>shockwave abolished this faith. What follows? They weren't making or doing
>anything truly useful (except keeping themselves occupied and perhaps
>raising morale), now nothing has changed except the readiness of the other
>50 percent to pay for them. (Is that a useful analogy? Maybe not.)

The world economy doubles every fifteen years, and that is in effect
what happens when the economy doubles. For this change to make a real
different in world growth, it has to happen faster than in fifteen years,
or the world has to keep growing in other ways as it happens.

>What, then, are the sales staff selling? What goods are being carefully
>stored and moved long distances? Who fill the skyscrapers doing what?
>What vast trucks rumble over the big bridges? Feedstocks?

I don't think you have a clear picture of the economy you live in.
All those salesfolk and skyscrapers are not mainly there to move stuff
from factories to your home, or even to design the things the factories
make. They perform lots of other useful functions. Maybe you should
go visit a skyscraper someday and ask people what they do :-).

> >The fraction of software effort now using the open source route is
> >miniscule, the gains to specialization in production are now enormous,
>That was now, this is then.

Whether this is now is the open question we are discussing.
It is far from obvious that gift production will dominate design or
that gains to production specialization will disappear.

>With AI agents
>taking over most of the scut-work of filing and organizing and perhaps even
>entertaining, and praying to the gods for us, many service industries will
>go the way of that 30 percent of manufacturing etc.

Assuming advanced AI is very different from just assuming early nanotech.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:02:16 MDT