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« Analog Computers & Nanotechnology | Main | Nanotech and Cyborgs »

March 03, 2006


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Tom Craver

Would you think it's a good idea to provide for your grown children's every need? Doing that for other people's grown children seems to indicate a low regard for them as human beings. Forcing it on them (e.g. by flooding their local markets with free goods, so that they are unable to compete) seems actively evil.

Any scheme for spreading the benefits of molecular manufacturing shouldn't involve institutionalization of "giving". The right solution has to involve helping people move to independence.

Mike Deering

If nanofactories can make copies of themselves, and if feedstock is cheap and available, and if designs can be created by laymen and distributed over the internet, then the problem of endemic poverty will solve itself without government intervention.

Phillip Huggan

Any positive-sum MM product which raises life expectancy or increases opportunities to achieve psychological satisfaction, should be freely offered. I don't care really how the rest is cut up.

If you really want to preserve capitalism justly, you have to reset it from the borderline-fascist hoarding of compounding interest game that it has become at its upper tiers. You have to allot capital to those who effect societally good actions measured by their opportunities.

Once people get beyond a consumption standard-of-living equivalent to about $15000/yr in the Western world, gains in happiness become much harder. A MMed Guarateed Annual Income of at least this figure is appropriate.

There are a few hundred actors in the world with enough money (or political jurisdiction) to end hunger for tens of millions of people. Each one of them. It hasn't happened. They are either unwilling or stupid. Definitely market forces are important in short-term duration environments teeming with mature actors near parity. Beyond these environments, screw capitalism.

Phillip Huggan

Mike, poor people don't have the internet. Sorry to sound like a broken record. The ability to end much poverty has been here since the agricultural revolution over 30 years ago. It hasn't happened. What will be different post-MM to prevent a repeat of the same scenario? Our next Einstein is presently starving in Bangledash.

Mike Treder, CRN

Tom, you mischaracterized CRN's position. The article supports providing "basic material needs" for all (whether or not they can afford to pay). That's clearly not the same as providing for their "every need."

We're saying that it's morally right -- in addition to being good policy for economic and security reasons -- to alleviate starvation, prevent disease, and provide secure shelter for all. With MM, the financial costs will be trivial; the political obstacles may still be hard to overcome.


Here we are getting political again. Maybe this debate can't be avoided though.

Is it really that easy to just feed the entire world? Who's going to pay for distributing these goods? Are we just going to hand over the materials to some regional governing body? How can you guarantee that the governing body will allocate the resources to people in need, and not hoard them in order to exploit people/increase their power?

There is a reason why capitalism is working.

Tom Mazanec

A demographic Transition might help. It is happening in nations with minorities in poverty, and is one big reason why advancing technology has been counteracted by rising population. It doesn't do much good to increase the pie when more people have to divide it up.

Tom Craver

MikeT: If the word "every" in my post bothers you, substitute "basic material". I'll stand by the post and it's relevance to CRN's position, which you dodged by focusing on one word of my post that did not significantly alter my basic message.

Giving people necessities to stay alive for a few weeks or months after they've lost everything - fine. Feeding their "basic material" needs year in, year out - bad, evil, foolish, counter-productive, flat out wrong approach.

Phillip Huggan

Won't there be more important problems to be preoccupied with post-MM than ensuring everyone has completed their mandatory military quota of character-building exercises?


"Feeding their "basic material" needs year in, year out - bad, evil, foolish, counter-productive, flat out wrong approach."

Of course, they will actually be feeding themselves, since they will have control of the nanofactories and will be using public domain designs. Why is this bad? They will still have plenty of things to strive for - the public domain designs will probably not come close to fulfilling every need. They will not be able to get this far if they are starving and suffering from malaria.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Tom, I don't think Mike was overly picky. "Providing for people's every need is evil" is a very different statement than "Providing people's basic material needs on a long-term basis is evil." It wasn't at all clear, until your second post, that you were stating the latter.

I think I disagree with you...

... I found myself writing a whole post, so I posted it.



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