Re: Nanotech: Open Source or Proprietary

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 08:37:36 MDT

On 7/12/2000 Charlie Stross wrote:
> > Yes, the big impact of nanotech on the economy that I can forsee
> > is to make most consumer products more like software, music, movies,
> > drugs, airlines, and education are now: full of complex price
> discrimination.
>I think you underestimate the significance of the software model. By
>the time we have nanotech, the lesson of open source will have sunk in;
>we can't assume that, just because physical products are replicatable the
>way software is, that the development of nanotech-mediated manufacturing
>will resemble today's software industry.
>Example: France, Germany, China, are beginning to to move -- at a
>governmental level -- to push proprietary software out of government
>offices and publicy-owned enterprises; they're switching to open source
>software or open standards instead. ...

I'll grant this as a possibility, but counter than many people seem way
too quick to assume that open source will take over. It is now only a
small part of software, and an even smaller part of the other industries
I mentioned, many of which have been around a lot longer.

Robin Hanson
Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University
MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323

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