Re: Nanotech Restrictions (post-nano society with high unemployment)

From: john grigg (
Date: Thu Apr 27 2000 - 15:45:37 MDT

Charlie Stross wrote:
The result of a move to a high-unemployment post-nano society is going to be
a massive surge in social disorder, mental illness, and any number of other
undesirable things -- unless we do something to mop up the labour pool of
un-retrainables by giving them something to do that makes them feel needed.
And I figure nanotech near-anything boxes are likely to show up a bit before
intelligence augmentation techniques, and be much more socially acceptable,
so we can't simply turn our unretrainables into retrainable geniuses.

Charlie, this is a very interesting scenario. And if near-anything boxes
are very expensive or simply not allowed into the hands of the public, then
you will not have unemployed people "living like kings!" We could see a gap
between rich and poor like the world has never seen before. This could
certainly lead to an explosion in mental illness and violence in society.

Of course, with near-anything boxes, the gov't could easily take care of the
basic needs of the unemployed but the psychological dissatisfaction of
living in such a state when others in society are thriving unbelievably
could still cause great social dissension.

I think the vast bulk of unemployed would be retrainable, especially with
the computer hardware and software cheaply available to teach these people.
It would take time though, and real effort on the part of the unemployed.
It could be seen later on as sort of a "renaissance period"
where people went back to school in droves, sort of like the time after WW2
with the G.I. bill as droves of men filled the universities.

Now, if near-anything boxes were fairly inexpensive and available to the
public, then this period of unemployment would be rather interesting! We
would see a new breed of "prosperous unemployed" who would have lots of time
on their hands but would have more then decent housing, transportation, food
and clothing due to their near-anything box and perhaps a small gov't dole.
And hopefully good medical care would also be available to them. I don't
know if adequate health care could come from a near-anything box! maybe?

I would think some people could actually blossom under these conditions and
find new interests, vocations and pursuits. I think most of us here sure
could! lol But others who are used to more regimented lives might fall into
a cycle of mental illness, violence and general indolence due to prosperity
without the absolute necessity of work.

The sins and vices of the poor would be among the trappings of the
present-day upper middle-class, at least materially. I have visited the
homes of people in the ghetto, including welfare moms, and wonder if they
would exploit this condition to improve themselves or burn themselves out in
a blaze of partying and violence? How would any of us respond?


John Grigg

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