Re: The economics of Star Trek

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Thu Feb 28 2002 - 13:00:01 MST

Richard Steven Hack wrote:

> The problem is that a tech like nano is going to have very
> general, very pervasive effects very quickly;

I don't think so, there are several orders of magnitude difference
between the complexity of a Fine Motion Controller and an Assembler
Arm and several more orders of complexity to get to nanorobots
and several more orders to get to nanorobot systems.

Unless you can make a very strong assertion that something like
molecular electronics enables an up-evolving AI that can rapidly
crack the complixity hurdles, nanotech is going to only impact
society over a 10-20 year period.

> the same is likely to be true of "true" AI,

*If* you make the assertion that there aren't complexity "ceilings"
or evolutionary "dead-ends". If intelligence turns out to be
like the process of solving systems of linear equations, then
we may have one method with very fixed properties for quite
a long time before a completely different approach from another
branch of mathematics provided a better solution.

> vastly extended lifespan, and other major advances.

The problem with vastly extended lifespans is that it may very
well be that to know for *sure* if your life extending technologies
will really "work", you are going to have to do atomic level
simulations of entire organs for very long periods of time.
We aren't going to have the computational capacity for doing
that any time in the near future.

I'd limit the fully developed nano-entitites to 4 things:
mass, energy and "nano-scale system designs" and the
means to turn the mass into the systems. I'd tend to
agree that the only thing worth trading is information.

Whether we still have an "economy" will depend on how far
down the path we go towards a hive mind mentality. Our
bodies and brains presumably have "economies" for the
allocation of resources -- whether there is an "external"
economy depends on the extent to which "we" grow to encompass
everything worth "exchanging".


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