Re: Upload Economics (WAS: RE: No AI for Nano/No Nano for copyloads)

From: Robin Hanson (
Date: Sat Jul 15 2000 - 19:04:51 MDT wrote:

> The per-capita wealth of highly-copied uploads might decline, but that
> would not be a bad thing from their point of view. Their choice would
> indicate that they prefer many poorer copies to a single richer copy,
> just as parents today prefer the expense of children to the rich life
> of leisure possible without them.
> I'm not sure you can conclude that highly-copied uploads favor
> the outcome to which their choices have led them. It seems to me
> there are externalities in each upload's decision to reproduce itself
> which can negatively effect the other uploads by driving wages down.

There is a large literature on the economics of population that I am drawing
from. An accessible summary of it is in Steven Landsburg's "Fair Play"
(or was it "Armchair Economist"?). I can be confident here because
I'm just drawing on that literature - the applications to uploads is trivial.

In general making a better product hurts your competitors, but in a competitive
market there is no
net externality (this is usually called a "pecuinary externality"), and doing
this is a net benefit. Creating more children might create more labor
competition for others, but it is also a net benefit. The main way that people
try to argue against having more children is to invoke ethical rules such as our
goal is to maximize the per-capita wealth, regardless of how few people that
leads us to.

> What happens to this scenario if the welfare of uploads is weighted
> equally with that of non-uploads, and the political system includes
> uploads in the redistribution of wealth? Does the ease of copying
> still make everyone rich?

There exists a redistribution such that every creature, upload or not, is better
off by allowing uploads.

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