Re: a free replication economy

James Rogers (
Tue, 28 Apr 1998 08:06:27 -0700

At 05:24 PM 4/27/98 -0700, Paul Hughes wrote:
>> >Stock options for those laid off would be a nice start!

And James Rogers replied:
>> I assume you are not serious, as this would significantly devalue a
>> company, effectively offseting the economic reasons for the lay off in the
>> first place.

To which Paul Hughes replied:
>The Scenario is that before we reach productive nanotech, the economy becomes
>so productive and efficient through automation that people become
>So why not allow everyone who is automated out of a those jobs (i.e. layed
>become shareholders in the company? And since when is owning some stock in a
>company equivalent to a devaluation of same?

Stock *options* are a corporate liability, and therefore devalue a company.
Issuing stock is not a liability per se, but without receiving fair value
for the shares, the existing shareholders will have their value diluted
significantly. BTW, in many localities it is legally required that fair
value be given for issued stock i.e. the corporation can not give it away.

>More importantly, if people are on the street with no money, they can't
>contribute to the economy except through begging. With some invested income
>they can at least buy YOUR products and services and perhaps make a
>contribution back to society.

A person whose only skill in this economy is labor (or begging) is
worthless. If replication is truly free (or cheap enough that everyone
else doesn't mind picking up the tab) then they will likely get fed,
sheltered, but largely ignored. Fortunately, most people have value beyond
their labor. I expect an inability to adapt to an information and
creativity economy to be a major "impoverishing" factor during the
transition period.

>Or are you sugesting that as more and more of the economy becomes automated
>less and less people are needed both as employees and consumers. So at this
>point one must ask why is their an economy at all if it isn't there to serve
>the people? What is the point of a business if there are no customers?

In your scenario, business as we know it is dead anyway. All this "free"
replication technology did not come out of thin air. For there to be free
replication technology and resources for all, there has to be a *serious*
abdication of ownership at some point between here and there. Such
abdication might be altruistic, but I would not call it good business.

-James Rogers