Eugene Leitl (
Mon, 14 Dec 1998 22:56:08 +0100

Terry Donaghe writes:

> I think that this will all become a moot point once we have mature
> nanotechnology (MT). If MT can provide food, clothing, and shelter
> cheaply enough for the world's population that it can be given away
> for free, and if MT can eliminate manual labor, will there even be a
> point in having a government?

Agree absolutely. In fact, I don't see any point in at all having people if we have MNT. In case I'd lay my hands on an assembler, and could spend quite a few years in a log cabin alone (but with full connectivity, please), I'm very willing to demonstrate. (Of course a team of people two decades from now could accomplish a lot in a single month, so I won't need to play hermit to act upon my promise, after all).

I admit to have a deep level of discomfort when confronted with the style of thinking such as yours, or, for instance, JoSH's neat visions about a 5 t spacecraft, fuel included, capable of delivering 4 people to LEO.

You see, a technology which can do a lot of funky things like that without even trying hard will not be so surgically selective. In the hands of ruthless people ('gene here, for instance) you'll see a lot of new unexpected uses crop up rapidly, wave after wave. Of course, with MNT the implementation phase is only hours away from the design phase (and simulation even being instanteously interactive). So these waves could very well be physically visible. Each wave would mount upon wave.

I'm a lousy coder, but a lot of what I can't do is limited by the kind of computational resources I have at my disposal. I can think of detailed plans for a desktop hardware giving me a factor of at least a billion over the machine I now sit in front of (in fact the thing is scalable many orders of magnitude upward, since being embarrasingly parallel). I think I could manage such hardware after a year or two. I know many people who would be able to become productive much sooner. If I had such hardware at my disposal, I'd spend the bulk of my wake hours designing a robust GA fit for molecular design purposes and creating boundary conditions for SI emergence. I could think about 10 kPeople world-wide would have similiar core motivations, with surely several 100 kPeople being busy at the tangents of the task, and hang all those still sticking to panem et circenses. I can't predict the kinetics of this assembly, of course, but intuitively, it would seem very Very VERY rapid. Unless you have means of bring the boot down on these people simultaneously (if they all possess assemblers, seems like a very bad idea indeed), you can't prevent progress from happening. Indeed keeping VERY rapid progress from happening.

Mayest thou live in interesting times.