Re: Nanotech promotion and post-government feasibility

Jeff Davis (
Mon, 06 Sep 1999 01:37:58 -0700

Robert J. Bradbury ( Sat, 4 Sep 1999 06:33:20 -0700 (PDT) writes:

>We still seem to a large degree to focus discussions on concepts that I
suspect will be

> It seems the role of government gets very small.
>And yet we seem to focus huge amounts of conversation on what governments
will or will not
>do. We don't seem to be able to climb out of the current system enough to
see what the new
>system will look like.

This is how I see it as well.

For example: nanotech will provide a vast productive capacity (actually, it's the self-replication feature of nanotech that is the key to this, so I ought to be saying "self-replication will provide,..." et seq, but, as most of the readers of this list are accustomed to hearing nanotech given credit for the ascribed consequences, I'll just stick with the convention so as not to confuse) which may be expected to saturate demand for most material goods, and in so doing transform the entire order of things. We need to attempt to conceptualize the entire cascade of events if we are to see what the situation will look like.

If nanotech is globally ubiquitous in the home consumer version (as contrasted with the, in my view unlikely, weapons-capable version), so that everyone makes their own power, food, clothing, housing, clean water, etc, then why does anyone go to work? Well, first you need to notice a fundamental change in the meaning of the term "work". The old meaning is now an anachronism. One would no longer go to "work". One would devote one's time and energy to something judged to be worth doing. Survival's not the issue anymore, fundamental value in the activity is.

Why do government workers go to work? After all, they, like everyone else, have nanotech replicators in their nanotech replicated homes. And if they don't go to work, then what is left of the government?

The idea of a floating city-state, built by nanotech (or other self-replicating machines), is a favorite of mine. It represents a potentially non-violent means of escape from a society heavily freighted with backward thinking folk(BTF) and tediously oppressive governments. And though I still like the idea of custom-built waterfront property, nevertheless nanotech-mediated abundance is likely to make the BTF a good deal more placid, perhaps even amenable to forward thinking, and reduce those formerly-irritating governments into relics of a bygone era, much as the monarchies of old remain as relics in today's world. So moving offshore is--post-nanotech--not nearly so compelling. (I'd still go for it because I like the idea of cruising the world in a community of like-minded folks.)

The value of floating property then lies in the elimination of the former limits of the supply of waterfront property worldwide. The original Malibu beachfront cottage may cost millions of dollars, but the nanotech replica may be had for a song.

Let's suppose that there would still be an economy. For one thing replicators would need the programming to make "stuff". So there would be a market in new designs. But the new economy, well,...I don't see it clearly, and I certainly don't see it having the ruthlessness of the former economy where everyone was enslaved by--at the bottom--the desparate life or death struggle to survive or--at the top--by the desparate life or death struggle to succeed.

>Some people seem to have a fair amount of fear that nanotech is a bad
thing and if so, the
>promotion of a U.S.-Russia nanotech race would not be good. But if it were
combined with the
>perspective that such a race could not be "won" for long (as with the
nuclear race) and that
>winning such a race would essentially make governments obsolete then it
would appear that
>governments have the most to fear from nanotech. I'm assuming here that
winning the race does
>not allow you to turn the other country into grey-goo because the other
side anticipates this and
>has nano-tech stopping radiation sources available. This goes back to my
extensive discussion
>that SI "wars" shouldn't occur, because you have to guarantee that you
wipe out every last spec
>of nanotech belonging to the opposing side.

This is just plain silly. The Henny Penny syndrome. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" The bogeyman, the Devil, the commie, the homosexual, the dope fiend, the criminal, the heathen infidel, the unwashed masses, the terrorist, germs, the monster under your bed: look out! They're gonna get you! Fear is an ancient survival mechanism. Anything unfamiliar is potentially dangerous. Run away! Run away! Great on the African savannah; atavistic and ridiculous in a culture on the brink of transcendence. Nanotech abundance makes everyone fat dumb and happy, and unanimous in agreement that nanogoo shall not spoil their party. Nano surveillance bots will be dispatched to every nook and cranny of the planet to make sure that no one abuses the nanogoose. Or somesuch similar regimen of protection will be initiated.

Nanotech abundance is the culmination of everything mankind has worked for since the first proto-human hefted a rock. Once the word gets out to the huddled masses yearning to breathe free, its achievement is unstoppable.

Best, Jeff Davis

	   "Everything's hard till you know how to do it."
					Ray Charles