Re: playing catch-up

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Tue Jan 01 2002 - 01:42:22 MST

Lee Daniel Crocker wrote:
> > In a world where all material items (except fixed land resources
> > and so on) can be had simply by asking the local nanobots to dig
> > up the pattern and produce it, what exactly would property
> > rights apply to and why would you care?
> Last time I checked, nanotech doesn't get around conservation of
> mass-energy, so property rights are no less useful when everyone
> on the planet is a billionaire than now. The total amount of

Well you do need some discussion about what is considered part
of the "commons" and what is "owned". I suspect it will change
quite a bit as the ease with which material goods can be created
and by whom changes. I also suspect that worrying about how
many monetary tokens one has will be a lot less prevalent. I am
very interested in creating greater value. I am singularly
uninterested in mere accumulation of lots of tokens. Arguably,
having a large and well-stocked commons can lead to more
innovation and growth of real value than having almost
everything owned.

> resources remains the same--the amount of solar energy the planet
> can harness. It's only the efficiency with which we can use it

Not so. The effective amount of wealth does not remain the

> that will grow exponentially. When we move out into the galaxy,
> then the pool expands even more, but it's still a fixed pool,

That it is not literally infinite is rather beside the point.
It is certainly not be any stretch "scarcity" of the kind our
economic system was designed to cope with unless we create
artificial scarcity by insisting the commons stays artificially
small and everything imaginable has a price tag slapped on it.
I have actually heard some go so far as to claim that every atom
of matter and erg of energy must be owned by someone.

> and humans will disagree about how to use those resources--indeed
> there will be even more disagreement than there is now, because
> there will be more people with different desires, and more /kinds/
> of people (AI, etc.) with desires we can't even imagine now.

I think that the lid will be off for long enough that we won't
be doing too much fighting for a while after MNT is fully
deployed. It would be a refreshing change.
> Just because it's harder for humans to visualize the difference
> between 1 and 2 billion than to visualize the difference between
> 1 and 2 hundred doesn't mean the difference doesn't exist. As I've
> said before, when everyone on the planet is a billionaire, the guy
> with 10 billion still gets the girl, the bigger spaceship, the
> asteroid in the better neighborhood, and the nicer toys. "Scarcity"
> is a relative thing.

I would hope that we grow out of this kind of adolescent rivalry
fairly soon. But I won't hold my breath.

- samantha

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