Re: The Singularity and Nanotechnology

Robin Hanson (
Sun, 22 Sep 96 16:24:26 PDT

Dan Clemmensen writes:
>However, MNT is very likely to make the cost of local production of
>almost anything, lower than the transportation cost of that same item
>from a central site.

This statement is not self-evident. Defend it.

>That is, the differentials in production efficiencies that drive
>the current economy will disappear.

The current economy is *not* driven by raw physical production economy
efficiencies. There are also costs to retool for new products, to
invent products, to market them, etc.

>With MNT, all I need to produce an item is the design for the item,
>and matter, and energy. This means that any individual who so desires
>can drop out of the global economy and revert to a "subsistence
>lifestyle" with material self-sufficiency.

If the population explodes (such as with uploads) there may not be
enough land and sunlight for everyone to do this. Or drop outs may
not have their property rights respected if their military technology
is far below par.

>That lifestyle will be very lavish by today's standards.

But it may be very poor compared to not dropping out.
You and I could now go try to live as mountain men, after all.
Which isn't a bad life by historical standards (now that even mountain
men can afford guns, flashlights, etc.)

>I suppose that an economy in these three inputs (design info, matter,
>energy) could in principle emerge, but not in time to avoid a complete
>meltdown of the existing economy.

This all depends on the speed of change. Why would it be that fast?

Robin D. Hanson