RE: my take on a nanotech-gift economy...

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Wed Jan 19 2000 - 07:32:58 MST

Damien Broderick echoed Alejandro Dubrovsky:
> >Yes, but what percentage of the services industry lives on the fact that
> >people have no access to free manufactured goods?
> >but even if [open source] is minuscule, it is enough for lots of people.
> >Transporting this to the nanotech scenario, how many people would drop out
> >of the trade system because the open source designs are enough to live on
> >and don't care (or learn not to care) about the rest.
>I have a tormented feeling that my ignorance of formal economics is
>precisely why I can't see what's wrong with this fundamental perspectival
>shift from the way things are done now and the numerous kinds and
>hierarchies of jobs that will just evaporate. Still...

1) You could take $30,000, move to a poor country, and pay the locals
$2,000 per year, and they would feed, clothe, and house you at a
relatively comfortable level (the food would taste good, your room would
be warm and clean, etc.). You wouldn't have to work for the rest of your
life. And yet, almost no one does this.
2) You could now save a huge fraction (>50%?) by buying simple standard
items via mail order (or internet), rather than getting the latest
fashions, getting to change your mind at the last minute about what you
want to eat this week, getting to browse things physically to see what
you like, and getting sales folks to advise you about things. Few people
do this.
3) Services include insurance, stock markets, fast food, education,
telecom, security, hotels, movies, doctors, lawyers, car repair, ...

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

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