Re: Robin on nanotech-gift economy

From: Robert Bradbury (
Date: Sat Jan 15 2000 - 16:26:56 MST

On Sat, 15 Jan 2000 wrote:

> [ Taking posts horribly out of order . . . a dangerous precedent . . . ]

No worse than growing potatoes in swamps...

[The above statement has nothing to do with anything, its just
what popped into my head...]

> In a message dated 1/14/00 10:31:57 PM Central Standard Time,
> writes:
> > >All those salesfolk and skyscrapers are not mainly there to move stuff
> > >from factories to your home, or even to design the things the factories
> > >make. They perform lots of other useful functions.
> >
> > What, though, when all is said and done?

If you look at the "average" skyscraper its got a few financial
services floors, a few legal floors, perhaps some doctors and
dentists, maybe some publishing or other forms of entertainment, etc.

A big chunk of this is dedicated to helping you "collect" and
"maintain" your "wealth". Much of the rest of it is dedicated to
providing opportunities to use your wealth in interesting ways so you
can convince yourself that you are "happy" and life is "fun".
[Kind of cynical today, I guess... :-)]

I haven't responded in detail to Damien's economic note yet (hopefully
soon), but my general feeling is that the activity vector space contracts
significantly (for humans) in the processes of producing stuff and
defining & regulating aspects of that production. If we get a little
more education (say everyone has a law degree), then human behavior may
become more "trustable" (so you don't need the lawyers for most everyday
stuff). Now, in addition, everyone gets "moderately wealthy" (either by
simply living long enough & compounding investments or because NanoSantas
take care of everyone's "survival" needs. [Note, so that Robin doesn't
jump on me I'm holding constant the # of copies of each of us.] Since
you are effectively much wealthier and you don't have "current" survival
concerns, you become much less interested in the "growth" of wealth.

Since presumably some levels of Nanotech & AI are available, that
means the creativity space (and barriers to the expression thereof)
expands *significantly*. Furthermore, since we all have so much more
free time, the need for "fresh" entertainment increases as well.

So my feeling is that a very large shift occurs from manufacturing,
legal & financial activities into create/design/test activities.
I think people can easily see how the barriers between say "art" and
"mechanical engineering" or "programming" and "screenplay writing" may
breakdown and begin to merge.

Now the two monkey wrenches that get thrown at this perspective
(as has been discussed before) are (a) a "race" for IA and/or endless
copies and/or economic resource grabbing; and (b) the development of
an AI that may have fundamentally different motivations or morals.

Some very interesting new job categories open up. For example
verifying that parts of dozens of nanodesigns can't be disassembled
and reassembled to form universal destructor machines... I could
see us sucking up half the productive thought capacity (with sub-agents)
on that single task alone.

> Most of what the "white collar" world does is coordinate and facilitate
> the needs, desires, abilities and resources of other people.
> In other words, they create and adjust networks of people.

Probably a better way of saying what I said.

> Far from being replaced by hardware and software that facilitates
> this process, the demand for such services seems to GROW with the increase in
> functionality of technological support for communication and information
> handling.

Presumably as the complexity and comprehension grows, so to does the need
for individuals managing the reliability of the interconnections and
low level details of specific knowledge bases. Now the interesting
question becomes whether or not lawyers or financial services
people "graduate" to "programmers" of reliable exchange or ROI agents.

Do we get squashed because the complexification of the Spike makes
it chaotic enough that it implodes? Or do we only let it grow
in those regions where we can reliably manage it?

> It seems that people (and other intelligent economic actors) will continue to
> value these functions even if we achieved true "anything box" technology.


> Having already broken the direct link between money and atoms, this appears
> to provide all that is necessary to create the pathway for this phenomenon to
> continue on into an economy of superabundance.

Provided the complexity doesn't hang us!


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Jul 27 2000 - 14:02:17 MDT