Re: the economics of transition to nanotech

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Tue Jan 11 2000 - 13:43:42 MST

Robin Hanson wrote:
> [I've been away this weekend at an econ conference. RH]
> On 1/7/2000 Damien Broderick wrote:
> >... I'm try to address some of the critical objections to v. 1.0,
> >especially certain complaints that the economics (implicit and explicit)
> >were handwaving and/or naive. I'm happy to stick by some of what I wrote
> >(eg, that we might end up with a gift economy if assemblers prove cheap and
> >tractable), but the vexing issue is the realistic pathway there.
> The stability and plausibility of a nano-gift economy seems to me to be
> much more questionable. *If* such an economy made sense, I don't find
> it hard to imagine industry developing the technologies that make it possible.

If a nano-gift economy evolves, it will be because open-source nanotech
outcompetes proprietary nanotech, an outcome I find easy to imagine. As
Eric S. Raymond points out at considerable length, especially in the
truly excellent _The Magic Cauldron_, the best reasons for open-source
have nothing to do with altruism. Open-source code develops faster and
works better. Who wants to buy a clunky private spacewagon when they
can get a much more reliable one for free?

(The term "spacewagon" is intended to conjure up images of a
Wild-West-like colonization drive; a spaceship containing enough
nanotech to set up a thriving asteroid colony.)

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Typing in Dvorak         Programming with Patterns  Writing in Gender-neutral
Voting for Libertarians  Heading for Singularity    There Is A Better Way

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