The following is an excerpt from our page: A Solution that Balances Many Interests.
Capitalist nanotech is compatible with humanitarian relief
There are billions of people in the world today who have almost no way of earning money. Many of these people are sick and even dying from malnutrition and disease, but may not be able to pay licensing fees for cheaply manufactured nano-built products that would keep them alive.
Global security and humanitarian considerations both demand that basic material needs be provided for these people whether or not they can pay. There are many arguments that the owners of nanofactory technology should allow free use for humanitarian purposes.
- First, the profits to be made from selling water filters and mosquito netting are miniscule compared with the profits from selling high-end luxury goods.
- Second, if only one nanofactory design is allowed, this creates a monopoly, and monopolies can legitimately be regulated.
- Third, if billions of people can rapidly be raised from abject poverty, the global market for luxury goods will increase dramatically, which allows the owners to make more money (the "rising tide" argument).
- Fourth, both governments and charities should be willing to compensate the nanofactory owners handsomely for a blanket humanitarian license.
- Fifth, innovative products generate more money for the nanofactory owners—and to spur innovation, basic technologies should be free anyway.
- Sixth, if the future owners are not willing to agree to this at the time nanofactories are developed, they may be locked out of the development project in favor of those who will allow free humanitarian (and perhaps government) use.
- Seventh, lifesaving technology will be so cheap to produce that to restrict its use would be obscene; few individual business owners or stockholders would actually choose to prevent lifesaving use if they were directly confronted with the choice.
We've been called "naive" for seeking solutions that avoid a nanotech arms race. Is our reasoning above equally blind to realpolitik?