Re: Technology evolves, etc.

Eugene Leitl (
Fri, 6 Nov 1998 22:39:00 +0100

Robin Hanson writes:
> Some comments:
> 1) It is not clear that demand can ever be "saturated."

Beyond the classical economics context, I think that is very well possible. Albeit it is difficult to compare 'demands' from the economical and ecological (say, tropical rainforest) domain, in the latter's case the material and energy streams are clearly finite (=stagnated at a high level). I think this is also applicable to any system with a finite matterenergy concentration, which fairly covers them all.

> 2) Your phrase "cost factors always originate in the labor
> component of a product or service" sounds bogus. The
> cost of land, for example, is very real.
> 3) A self-reproducing solar-array builder need not be at
> all close to something that can make anything.

Obviously, spatial proximity is only relevant if the transportation costs (which are very low nowadays) are significant in comparison to the production costs. Albeit autoreplicators could amplify means of production as well as of transportation, there are external constant factors to account for, unless the autoreplicator colony has grown large and heterogenous enough to start dealing within itself.

> 4) The growth *rate* seems crucial. Something that doubled
> every twenty years seems pretty uninteresting.

Only if compared to things that are growing faster. Over astronomical time scales, a doubling rate of /20 a is certainly enormous. Whether atoms, or grains of rice on the chessboard, on the long run the outcome is the same.