Re: No nanotech before AI

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 12:55:28 MDT

I wrote:
>... nanotech is physical capital for manufacturing. Manufacturing is about
>17% of the US economy. All forms of non-human capital together get ~30% of
>income, so physical capital gets maybe ~20% of income. So physical capital
>for manufacturing gets ~ 3.5% of income. So suddenly making that free, as
>nanotech might, is an improvement equivalent to one year's economic growth.
>Now if you could make the labor and human capital of manufacturing cheaper,
>that would be a bigger deal. And making labor and human capital of all
>industries cheaper, as from AI or uploading, that is a huge deal.

John Clark responded:
> >nanotech is physical capital for manufacturing. Manufacturing is
> >about 17% of the US economy.
>At the very least you'd have to add agriculture to that percentage since it's
>just more manufacturing to Nanotechnology. You'd also have to add in most
>of transportation because there's little point in moving stuff around if
>you can
>make it in place, add in construction too. You'd also need to include much of
>the service industry, no need for plumbers or mechanics or most repair men
>for that matter because if something breaks just make a new one. We also
>don't need fast food workers or waiters or ...

It seems your "Nanotechnology" is much better than my "nanotech". Your
"Nanotechnology" can make just about everything so cheap you wouldn't think
to just make another one if you ever saw any flaw in something. And it can
do this right next to anyone anytime. It makes table-ready food from atoms,
prepares table settings, recommends items, plans travel, gives haircuts,
builds buildings, bridges, dams, and roads. In contrast, my poor nanotech is
just atomic-precision factories, which you'd have to figure out how to use
to do
other useful stuff.

Yessiree, good idea; as long as Santa's around giving stuff out, why ask for
"nanotech" when you can ask for "Nanotechnology"?

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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