my take on a nanotech-gift economy...

From: john grigg (
Date: Wed Jan 12 2000 - 14:02:34 MST

I have been very interested in the thread about a nanotech-gift economy. I
will restate my own views on the subject. When mature nanotech is here I
see a level of prosperity the developed nations will have never have seen
before. Open-source designs will be available for just about anything one
could want. But should a person want a state-of-the-art design they will
have to pay because a for profit company that designed that blueprint will
be selling it rather then giving it away.

So if you can tolerate having a generic and technically just adequate device
you go with open-source but if you want the best, latest and most innovative
you will pay for it. And you get accompanying "social status" by paying for
the designs. Of course advertising will reinforce the desire of people to
"be cool" and buy the latest designs. "Look at Larry, his clothes are
open-source, what a loser!"
The corporations will need income flowing in from sales to keep the R&D work
going also. Information even more then now and not the raw materials
really, will be what drives the economy. Mature nanotech will truly make it
the information age.

Some variables regarding a nanotech-gift economy are to what extent would
A.I. make it easy to develop state of the art open-source designs?
Considering the computer power available in the 2030's and 40's I would
thing even a average citizen could with home A.I. help create some very
impressive products. Of course an entire corporation's efforts would
probably far outdo his/her design but then when is enough ever enough? In a
future prosperous society I see status symbols becoming sadly even more
important as people try to impress eachother.

Another question is the exact nature of a nanotechnology. Is a bottle of
nanoassemblers simply poured over raw materials? Or is it a device the size
of a microwave or a large refrigerator? Would the models available to
consumers allow them to build homes or vehicles?

Considering the possible terrorist applications of nanotech (or even just an
accident of some kind) and how it would also threaten corporate interests I
could easily see heavy government regulation to the point that there would
be no chance for a nanotech-gift economy to ever develop.

In the name of national security nanotech assemblers could be kept under
wraps to be used only by corporations and government departments that are
cleared officially to do so. Just as individuals don't get to have their
own private inhome nuclear reactors to power their house, so the mid 21st
citizen may be legally banned from personally using a technology that could
transform society and at the least severely bend the rules of the old
economic order. I hope I am wrong on this point but I doubt it.

I look forward to critiques on this post. I think I have brought up some
pertinant points.

best regards,

John Grigg
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