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« Scope and Degree of Control | Main | Worldviews and Values »

July 27, 2004


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Tom Craver

Here's an approach that's a mix of B and C with a touch of A. It attempts to minimize transaction costs, minimize incentive for individuals to pirate information, and preserve a form of free market.

It initially uses a primitive concept - "channels" - mainly to make it easy for people to understand. A channel is just a service people would subscribe to for information, entertainment, communication services, nanofactory designs, etc. It might be an out-growth of existing cable-TV/internet and cellphone services. It could get started as a way of paying for access to premium access on the internet, and would ease the transition to a nanotech economy based on it.

A) Recognizing creators' value to society, governments require that all information commerce be carried via registered channels that must respect creators' copyrights, patents, trademarks, etc.

B) People pick a set of channels that best match their needs and interests and pocketbook, and pay flat periodic access fees. Fee structures would be designed to encourage people to stay subscribed, rather than "channel hopping".

C) Once they've paid the flat fee, everything on an information-only channel is free, minimizing incentives to pirate information. They can save information locally, but each use will still send a signal out to the channel it came from - there's no real incentive to disable that, since there's no added charge, even if you cancelled that channel subscription. It's just a way of tracking how much value a particular piece of information contributes to society, and so how much its creator should be rewarded.

B) Things that still have per-unit prices in the nanotech era - such as rare elements or land or fuel - would be available through channels as well. The channel services themselves will usually be for-profit, so of course you can buy shares in them via the WallStreet channel.

B) Creators choose which channel(s) to contract with to carry their content, in return for compensation proportional to usage and other mutually agreed upon measures of value.

B) If one wants something from a channel one does not subscribe to, it can still be gotten - typically for a small added fee.

A) Government may provide a free (taxpayer funded) channel providing public access to government information and minimal services to those who are flat broke - education useful in helping people become productive citizens again, and likely a few "minimal survival" designs like "solar power blanket" and "channel access pad".

C) Various charitable organizations will provide free/low-cost channels organizing a wide range of public domain information and designs.

B/C) High-social-value new information products such as designs might be sold on a "share" basis. You buy the design for your own use, making you a registered shareholder in it. For each subsequent person buying a share in the design, you would be credited with a fraction of the selling price - though the fraction decreases as others buy in and the number of shares increases. This would get people involved in owning shares in new designs they like, giving them reason to buy new designs rather than pirate them, and "moral" motivation to turn in anyone they learn is pirating designs. It'd also tend to mean that new designs get bought up quickly, minimizing time for the creator to get a good return.

Mike Deering

"Some resources will still be scarce."   I disagree.   The big problem with planning for the future is the unknowns.   Several of us are operating under different basic assumptions.   Those who think that IP, prime real estate, and energy will continue to be scarce resources are busy planning economic structures for the distribution of them.   Those, like myself, who think that AGI will make IP obsolete (why pay for IP when you can have your own AGI whip up whatever information you want from scratch) are of the opinion that the "resources limited" people are wasting valuable time and intellectual resources on an incomplete understanding of the interdependencies of A.I. and nanotechnology.   Energy and real estate will only be severely limited for those who stay on Earth.   Earth will be the resource ghetto of the post Singularity society.   And political power will follow resource power the way it did from England to America.   Earth is not going to be the super-power dictating to the rest of the Solar System what they can do.   The greatest concentration of political power is going to be in space because that is where the greatest resources are.

Planning for the future social consequences of MM while keeping all other technological development, such as AGI and molecular biotechnology, stationary is operating with blinders on.   AGI will speed up the rate of innovation hugely.   Molecular biotechnology will radically change our relationship to institutionalized medicine.   A personal nanobot system can maintain your cells in perfect working order and repair any damage immediately, or my personal choice, re-engineer your body from the ground up on a non-biological paradigm.   Personal dependencies such as food and air will be replaced by the only essential requirement; energy.   Personal security issues are much easier when you have complete engineering freedom over the thing being protected.

The reason access to space has thus far been limited to responsible parties is that it has been so easy to control, not because of purposeful policy decision on the part of the current leadership.   After these new technological capabilities become widely available King George is going to be too busy "negotiating" with other counties to keep control of the great exodus.   And before he knows it the colonists will be more powerful than he is.   The society that forms in space will be the new hope of humanity (I'm including post-humanity in this too), and the protector of new freedoms; life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

  • Life - the freedom to control your form of life at the molecular level.

  • Liberty - the freedom of complete control of the molecular structure, though molecular nanotechnology, of the atoms in your possession.

  • The pursuit of happiness - the freedom to engage in any activity that doesn't violate another's self determination.

    Mike Deering.

  • michael vassar

    Mike. As far as I can tell, the purpose of CRN is to help mankind to survive the period between the development of MNT and AGI. I don't know how long that period is, and I don't think you do either. If you think you know, please tell us and explain. Until then, we will assume that there will be a substantial period with MNT and no AGI, and that this period may be difficult to prepare for.

    Mike Deering

    Don't get me wrong.   I love the U.K.   The U.K. is great, but it is different than the U.S.   And different isn't necessarily bad.   In broad general terms the society in the U.K. places the line between the preferences of the individual and the needs of the society a bit closer to the society side than does the U.S.   Obvious examples are gun control, freedom of the press, and personal privacy.   Notable counter examples are celebrity privacy laws, the administration of and access to medications, and cloning technology.   But in general, the people in the U.K. think that individuals don't require quite as much personal freedom as people in America think they need.   And I'm not saying they are wrong.   I'd much rather walk down a neighborhood street in London at night than one in New York.

    I expect restrictions on nanotechnology to be instituted in the U.S. and similar if not more restrictions in the U.K. (no making guns).   Space, on the other hand, is going to be the wild west for a while, until some power structure coalesces.   That power structure will not be an extension of terrestrial power structures, but independent.   And yes there will be a short power struggle between the terrestrial power and the space based power where it will be clearly shown where the superiority is; in space.

    You can ignore history at your peril.

    Mike Deering.

    Mike Deering

    What do I think the period of time between MNT and AGI will be?   Essentially zero.   Why?   Three reasons.   One: I can see the progress being made in both fields and they are neck-and-neck.   Two: MNT will make AGI much easier and faster to develop (MNT enables A.I.).   Three: you need significant levels of A.I. in order to do significant things in MNT (A.I. enables MNT), therefore they are tied together.

    Mike Deering.

    Janessa Ravenwood

    Mike: I hope you're right, especially since that would mean me getting faster access to nanomedicine (the kind I need will pretty much require an AI/nanobot architechture as near as I can tell).

    todd andersen

    I would tend to agree with many of the comments made above as change is coming with molecular manufacturing and scale of change will be unprecedented many interesting point made is the timing of two of the other elements in this discussion notwithstanding the availability a molecular manufacturing secondly the availability of advanced form of robotics and thirdly the availability of some rationale for artificial intelligence if we develop even a basic form of molecular manufacturing and manufacturer can produce copies of itself I do not anticipate this as a first generation molecular manufacturing it is easier to envision a situation where 99 percent of the total mass of the assembler can be reproduced of blood a few vital parts cannot also a feedstock material is an open-ended question of course if you have a molecular assembler the first thing you could build would be a machine to produce the other one percent of the molecular assembler and they another machine to produce feedstock material nonetheless if this day comes and no significant robotic assistance is available Manpower still becomes a restricted resource and intellectual writes are also a restricted resource in the event that a reasonable form of artificial intelligence exist and a molecular assembler exists on day one event the manufacture of useful items is simplified one could simply request a three-bedroom two bath home with attached grouch and the pieces could be assembled from a variety of different assemblers and piece together forming the home depending on the size of the assembler is and relative size of the pieces the labor involved in the construction of the home may be negligible to excessive, if on day one AI is in place or a situation where one of the first products you can be built from the molecular assembler is a computer capable of AI it seems that the design of useful product is no longer a restricted resource. once again if advanced form of robotics is available for manufacture labor is removed from the list of restricted resource as to other elements i.e. gold platinum as being somehow valuable in a post molecular manufacture economy I would say they are not valuable the diamond lattice construction allowing for conductive and nonconductive materials means all other relative elements fall to the wayside and are of no consequence so the question to resources and resource allocation comes down to land and energy as I have traveled the world I have often commented how much land there is that is not in use we also should note that earth should not be called Earth but should be called water for the obvious is reasoned that most of the earth is water what is interesting about water is the availability to live relatively easily up of on hand below water freeing up three dimensions and a lot of space I also that it would be interesting to live at one of the polls if one where to construct a comfortable home on the ice sheet this also opens up vast stretches of land well water but you get the point one interesting question I have perhaps one of you have an answer from the standpoint of construction given a mass doubling of the assembler how much energy doesn't actually take to double the mass of the assembler i.e. the assembler ways 10 pounds to produce a 10 pound product from the assembler how much energy does this require if the assembler weighed 1000 lb. and producing 1000 lb. products, to energy does this require the relevance of this question leads to the next question in the direction of solar cells to surface area ratio how much energy the receive given they solar cells will be produced using molecular manufacturing their relative percentage gain energy should be higher than standard solar cells forsaken discussion if I was to produce a 4 by 8 sheet of diamond lattice for use in construction of a home what would your opinion be on the amount of energy this would require. And thereby what is the amount of surface area for the solar panels in use to power the assembler's.





    Janessa Ravenwood

    Todd: You've re-defined the term "run-on sentence." I won't even try to read that.


    My apologies for the above writing I am using Dragon NaturallySpeaking and it is not punctually therefore this is a punctuation free zone as I am completely unfamiliar with the rules of punctuation once again my apologies todd

    One of the more serious resource restrictions I foresee in a post molecular manufacturing environment is the availability of food who now this restriction can easily be addressed by the construction of greenhouses and production of food by this means where I live in Iowa there are large stretches of land used in the production of corn and other food so it is easy for me do envision the construction of large greenhouses producing great quantities of food but in a city environment the availability of space and the number of people would make things much more difficult to construct large greenhouses for the production of food so one question one would have what is the minimum square footage of greenhouse per person needed to produce food that is if one was to construct a 100,000 square foot greenhouse how many people would this greenhouse feed on a daily basis given rotating crops year-round and producing food daily once again in rural areas is easy to envision the availability of space to grow quantities of food to feed the number of people available but I do for sea situation where after like the manufacturing the city's empty out and people take up living in the rural areas once again this question of availability of food is also dependent on whether robotics representing unlimited manpower are available on day one and if a sufficient artificial intelligence is available on day one of planning ahead one could design a greenhouse complete with water purification air purification internal power and other requirements a model of 100 square yards to 100 square miles with varying degrees of size in between could be designed for download and easy modular construction this is as a useful product design should be available free to anyone with an assembler one could also envision if robotics and AI were not available the design could include labeling of food stock material that is individual bands could be labeled potatoes corn strawberries and so on additional information can be given and diagrams as well as written material can be provided in the greenhouse as part of the construction even a few simple tutorials whether verbal or written would ade tremendously in the production of food by less educated individuals thereby freeing up one major resource and problem this problem may be alleviated by the timeframe involved with the deployment of the assembler's if the assembler's are deployed slowly and time is given for construction of additional greenhouses by the state or some organization than the food stock can be maintained and potential problems avoided the should not be in my opinion used as they excuse to not roll out the assembler's in a timely manner but should be considered as a priority for construction in the opening days after the availability of the assembler it should also be considered that if robotics are available and implanted in any greenhouse than the maintenance of food production by humans could be dropped to near zero time another interesting point although the availability of seeds to grow food are widely available if individuals wish to produce meat products that is cattle the average city person might find it difficult to acquire a group of cattle for breeding and slaughter this has both up and down sides in that is likely a diet free from meat is a healthy diet by like a good stake anyway.

    Tom Craver

    Mike :
    If we get an AI singularity all bets are off anyhow, so why discuss the future at all? I choose to examine a subset of future possibilities where humans remain mostly human, mostly on Earth, but in a civilization undergoing massive transformation due to the onset of nanotech availability. I also choose to look for ways to make that transformation more orderly and less of a rolling disaster.

    Scarcity is subjective - we've got about 15 acres of land for every living person in the world, but we're willing to pay a huge sum for one acre in Manhattan and almost nothing for an acre of desert. So while we may get access to all of space (which is mostly like a desert), there'll still be prime real estate so long as humans remain human, and I suspect that the vast majority of humans will prefer to remain close to standard human for quite some time.

    I don't think we'll develop true AGI by (or even in) the early years of nanotech. Likely we will have decent automated engineering and design assistants to do some of the slog work of searching large solution spaces. Well trained people will still be needed to provide detailed goals for them and evaluate the multitude of intermediate results that will lead to a final design.

    Chris Phoenix, CRN

    Todd: the energy cost of making stuff is covered in my Nanofactory paper. Basically, it's about 200 kWh/kg for a primitive nanofactory, though it may improve by an order of magnitude or more with better designs.

    Solar cells should be quite lightweight (including mounting hardware). I think I've calculated that they should repay their energy cost in just a few days.

    I calculated once that a 2-bedroom house might weigh 200 pounds. Then you'd inflate it with high-pressure water for stiffness and to add enough mass to resist blowing away. Double panels separated by vacuum should keep out heat, cold, and sound pretty effectively.

    They're already working on inkjet spraying of tissue-like structures, including working blood vessels. Maybe if you want to eat steak, you won't need the whole cow. I haven't calculated how expensive/difficult this would be.


    Mario Marquinez Otalora

    Todd : please put on some punctuation, pauses, commas etc are part of the comunication process.I am sure you are saying clever things, but are almost inintelligible for me.Sorry


    Mr. Farlops

    Maybe this is not directly relevent but, I am skeptical of the AGI concept.

    It glosses over too much detail involved in the creation intellectual property. People don't pay someone to write novels for them in the style of Steinbeck, they want a copy of Steinbeck. People might pay for a band that plays covers of Nirvana but in the end fans still want to own a copy of Nirvana. People want a copy of the original, perferably in highest fidelity possible. It's one thing to have software engineering tools bash out code for you; it's quite another to have a machine attempt to play like Ray Charles.

    Assuming these AIs are smart enough to create things on their own, shouldn't we be giving these creatures political rights and payment for their labor? If so, this takes us back to the scarcity of intellectual property.

    Or am I misunderstanding what these AGIs will be used for?

    Mike Deering

    Tom, I don't think an A.I. Singularity will be incomprehensible or uncontrollable.   AGI is a tool, like a calculator, except it solves more complex problems. Unless we abdicate our position we are still going to be the captains of our destiny.   So I do think about it.   You think about a future where people stay mostly human and mostly on Earth.   That is fine with me.   I'll be thinking about a future where 99% of the power will be in the hands (tentacles? whatever) of post humans living in space.   As far as real estate being scarce off Earth, if you want to live on the slopes of Olympus Mons you are right.   Personally I'd rather snag a few asteroids and rearrange their molecular structure into a self sufficient very comfortable space oasis.   Even out at the Belt, if you have enough solar cells you can live quite luxuriously.

    Mr. Farlops


    But that's just my point: An AGI isn't just a calculator.

    If they are powerful enough to solve the hard problems of creativity and nuance other such vague things then I think it's almost certain they will be sapient. If they are sapient, they deserve rights and payment for their creative works. Obviously we want to avoid slavery or exploitation.

    This then takes us back to the scarcity of talent and intellectual property. Some of us draw cartoons better than others of us do. Some people's music will be more sought after than other people's music. I am not saying that one person's creative product is any better than another person's. I'm just saying that a power law distribution will apply at some point and some will make more than others.

    Nanotech doesn't mean the end of economics, it just means the scarcity of hitherto unimportant resources matters more.

    John Michelsen

    Mike, take a look at this paper about the "wild west": An American Experiment in Anarcho-
    Capitalism: The -Not So Wild, Wild West

    Todd, looking at your long paragraphs of non-punctuated text is almost physically painful. Dragon Naturally Speaking has some punctuation features you should look into.

    The comments to this entry are closed.