X-Message-Number: 13089
From: "john grigg" <>
Subject: my take on a nanotech-gift economy...
Date: Sat, 15 Jan 2000 14:51:44 PST

I have been very interested in the subject of a nanotech-gift economy.  I 
will state my own views on the subject.  When mature nanotech is here I see 
a level of prosperity the developed nations will have never have seen 
before.  Open-source designs will be available for just about anything one 
could want.  But should a person want a state-of-the-art design they will 
have to pay because a for profit company that designed that blueprint will 
be selling it rather then giving it away.

So if you can tolerate having a generic and technically just adequate device 
you go with open-source but if you want the best, latest and most innovative 
you will pay for it.  And you get accompanying "social status" by paying for 
the designs.  Of course advertising will reinforce the desire of people to 
"be cool" and buy the latest designs.  "Look at Larry, his clothes are 
open-source, what a loser!"
The corporations will need income flowing in from sales to keep the R&D work 
going also.  Information even more then now and not the raw materials 
really, will be what drives the economy.  Mature nanotech will truly make it 
the information age.

Some variables regarding a nanotech-gift economy are to what extent would 
A.I. make it easy to develop state of the art open-source designs?  
Considering the computer power available in the 2030's and 40's I would 
thing even a average citizen could with home A.I. help create some very 
impressive products.  Of course an entire corporation's efforts would 
probably far outdo his/her design but then when is enough ever enough?  In a 
future prosperous society I see status symbols becoming sadly even more 
important as people try to impress eachother.

Another question is the exact nature of a nanotechnology.  Is a bottle of 
nanoassemblers simply poured over raw materials?  Or is it a device the size 
of a microwave or a large refrigerator?  Would the models available to 
consumers allow them to build homes or vehicles?

Considering the possible terrorist applications of nanotech (or even just an 
accident of some kind) and how it would also threaten corporate interests I 
could easily see heavy government regulation to the point that there would 
be no chance for a nanotech-gift economy to ever develop.

In the name of national security nanotech assemblers could be kept under 
wraps to be used only by corporations and government departments that are 
cleared officially to do so.  Just as individuals don't get to have their 
own private inhome nuclear reactors to power their house, so the mid 21st 
citizen may be legally banned from personally using a technology that could 
transform society and at the least severely bend the rules of the old 
economic order.

I hope I am wrong on this point but I doubt it.  This could be a key area of 
conflict in the 21st century as the public tries to fight for direct access 
to this technology.

I look forward to responses about these things.  I think I have brought up 
some pertinant points.

best regards,

John Grigg
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