Re: Happiness (was Re: The meta-invisible hand)

Eric Watt Forste (
Tue, 23 Sep 1997 14:13:33 -0700

Keith Elis writes:
>> Will there come a point in time when owning property becomes
>> obsolete and there is not even a perceived link between wealth and
>> happiness?

Anders Sandberg replies:
> Owning property, at least in the material sense, will become obsolete
> once it can be manufactured or emulated so easily that there is no
> point in hoarding it.

You forget that you own your own body, in the material sense.
People who have a less delicate attachment to the notion of
property than you often (charmingly) seem to, think of their
property as an extension of their bodies.

I can make sense of what you are talking about only in envisioning
a future economy in which all physical computational capacity is
on the market, and all people are recognized as immaterial information
processes migrating to wherever they find their personal balance
point on the price/quality curves. But I think that's a *long*
way in the future, and the future evolution of our society is going
to pass through many tricky problematics long before we get to that

> Just look at how ordinary pens tend to wander around, they are so
> cheap that nobody cares if I happen to take one with me (ah, I see
> I have a DoubleTree Hotel pen on my desk! I wonder how it got
> here...?). People only get irritated when they need their pens or
> when the acto of taking them clearly infringes on their territoriality.
> Now imagine the same thing with other material stuff in a nanotech
> economy. Still, rare or necessary stuff will likely remain in the
> ownership sphere.

Um, I think people will be rather sensitive to the migrations
of their productive capital. In a post-nanotech world, I might
care as little about the migrations of my car as I now do about
the migrations of my pen, but I'm probably going to still be a
bit uptight about the fortunes of my feedstock supplies and my
main fabrication equipment. Certainly as long as I'm still on
this planet. And even in outer space, where fresh feedstock is
mostly a matter of exploration and transportation, nothing
more, I'm still going to be sensitive about my fabs.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++ expectation foils perception -pcd