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« Exploring the future | Main | Will magic technology be revolutionary? »

September 14, 2006


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andrew jones

"After all, flying cars have existed for a decade or so, and helicopters for a lot longer than that. We could have had a VTOL aircraft in every garage if we'd wanted it."

"It would have been easy to assume, in the 1950's, that every teenager would want and obtain a helicopter, but a combination of cost, safety, learning curve, bureaucracy, and rotor noise made things turn out differently. In the final analysis, a helicopter is only marginally more useful than a car for most family purposes--and useless for cruising down Main Street."

Actually the reason why flying cars, personal jets, and helicopters were ditched wasn't their feasibility. In fact several companies offered personal jets the only needed a minimal amount of space to take off from in the 70s. The problem was liability. Auto manufacturers are unlikely to be sued due to mechanical breakdown, but any airborne device that failed would probably kill the user. Helicopters, jets, etc aren't that much more complicated to drive and could be mass produced at low prices, it's the American legal system that has caused the major inflation in prices in Aircraft over the years. Such problems might plague nanofactories too, if they could easily be used to replicate destructive devices etc.

michael vassar

VR might do that. Of course, VR that good would be likely to require or involve substantial neurotech, and if you have the neurotech then odds seem pretty good that you can have intelligence amplification, and if you have intelligence amplification AND good neurotech and nanocomputers, while GAI might still be some years away, my strong guess would be not.


First, while futurists are often correct that things will be different than the proles anticipate, they're ALWAYS wrong about both the specifics, and the timeline. Always. I keep making this claim, and have never had anyone even present a real exception.

Instead of a robot maid to vacuum and wash dishes, we have dishwashers which are barely better than doing it manually, and we got Roomba thirty years late, as well as laughably not a robot, and barely an effective vacuum cleaner.

But the actual problem with flying cars -- Big Brotherment meddling through regulation and lawsuit viability -- is a tiny hint at why nanofactories will not be anything like the futurists claim, anytime in the forseeable future.

We could have had completely automated factories, costing a fraction of what they presently do, building most things by now. Heck, we could have had more of that than we actually did, any time in the last century...

But Big Brotherment and its ugly half-brothers, unions and anti-competetive corporations, didn't want us to, because it would "cost jobs", or reduce prices, et cetera.

And the moment someone in power seriously thinks that small-scale manufacturing and sales could possibly be replaced with personal nanofactories, they will find "health, safety, and job" reasons to ban them, or to impose such strict regulations upon them that we can never really have them in the first place.

We should have had mass-produced houses seventy years ago. They would be in all ways superior to custom, hand-made houses, the way mass-produced cars are superior to any ostensible cars custom-built one at a time by hand for the buyer.

But we don't have mass-produced houses, because "housing standards and safety codes" have effectively banned their manufacture, by setting up rules for the building and structure of a house which actually exclude SAFER things, just by being very specific about what is allowed.

Corporations won't want us to stop depending on them. Governments won't want to lose the hydraulic monopoly of us needing external sources for most life necessities. Unions won't want a few hundred thousand jobs lost, despite the massive increase in prosperity creating far more new jobs.

We are effed. It's not coming, unless the power of those three entities is changed. Anyone wanna bet on the likelyhood of THAT being allowed?

Words of the Sentient:

It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling
into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from
falling into error.ÆÆ
-- Justice Robert H. Jackson

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Brian Wang


A problem seems to be that you do not know what currently exists and what is available.

Factory manufactured homes are a billion dollar industry. Palm Harbor is one of the makers. Here is a wikipedia article about it. Notice the links at the bottom in the "See also" section.

I have made choices between putting up prefab homes, panelized homes and stick built homes. It is not just some local regulatory issues. Economics again. Some people don't like some of the pre-builts. Therefore the selling price could be less. Your end-profit could still be less. Cost savings may not result if the lot is highly sloped and most of the money is going into the pilings and foundation and the custom home has issues in transportation.

Workers may not be unionized but they may not be experienced with a particular system.

Automated factory info at wikipedia

There have been fully automated factories Japan had one in 1970

The issue with why have there not been more is that they have to be able to be flexible in customizing and retooling to meet changing demand. The company needs to be able to forecast what to make. Having people in some parts of the process provides needed flexibility. Economics and business again. What will happen is what will make the people providing it more money.

Flying cars. The public/people really did not want them. People who tried to make them did not make money. If you want more of it then you have to buy it.


If we accept all of your premises, it simply shifts the "will not happen" source back to futurists being impractical, and never predicting something viable, especially in a sane timeline.

But the problems you cite have more to do with the low implementation caused by the regulatory problems.

Take prefab/modular homes, for example. The sole reason we didn't buy a beautiful modular home on seven acres of land was that government regulations effectively banned our lending agency from approving a loan on a modular house.

And the only reason the house was there at all was that it was far enough in the boonies (ergo the large plot of land) that it didn't suffer any kind of local zoning or health/safety standards.

There certainly are places where such things don't exist. There's one county in texas with no zoning at all. But most people live in places with laughably specific rules about what can be built, and where you can live, and it's enough to keep modular/prefab homes from becoming a big enough industry to wipe out hand-built houses. A "billion dollar industry" is nothing, consider that housing itself is more like a trillion dollar industry.

And if you want to see the laughable state of small manufacturing today...the very kind of stuff personal nanofactories would displace...check out the cute little documentary (which I record for my kids' edification) How It's Made. Watch and marvel at how ridiculously inefficient the processes are, how most of the human bottlenecks are NOT there for safety, quality control, or flexibility...in fact, most of the time the human segment obviously is a liability in those things.

But they're there because of laws, or union contracts, requiring human intervention.

Remember, our entire country would be better off if we didn't limit imports at all. Every cheap item we buy from a third world country benefits the workers of that country, AND our economy, far more than the few jobs it costs...but we're all sacrificed on the alter of protecting those piddling, antiquated jobs.

If they're willing to harm our economy, costing us billions because of tariffs and import restrictions, in order to save a few thousand needless makework jobs, imagine what they'd be willing to do when it's a few hundred thousand jobs at stake, with only something as abstract as massively increased prosperity in return.

Nato Welch

The concept of desktop nanofactories are a refinement on the idea of molecular assemblers. Assemblers seemed like a great idea, until there was serious thought put into the safety considerations. Nanofactories solve those concerns by radically changing the design.

Given this, isn't it reasonable to conclude that we'll never see free-range molecular assemblers widely deployed in the same way our skeptic questions the popular deployment of nanofactories? It's interesting that the concern that will likely prevent deployment of assemblers is the same as that for the cited example of flying cars: safety (and the resulting liability concerns).

I should note that actual technical invention and popular deployment are separate issues - we're talking specifically about the latter, here, I presume.

We still have questions about the safety - and security - implications even of nanofactories. Private desktop nanofacs are of course a great safety improvement over assemblers, for certain - but are they enough?

It seems to have taken two decade to refine assemblers into nanofactories. Perhaps, with some more work, we can improve the security of the technology with another iteration of design discussions. But given the technical progress being made, one more iteration may be all we have left until the genie is out of the bottle.

BTW, It should be noted that safety concerns are also the ones holding back VR, as well. The health effects of head mounted displays have caused more than one electronics vendor to scrap products without releasing them.

Brian Wang

Accurate and useful statements made in the past that were good on specifics and timeline

In 1945, for example, Arthur Clarke (science fictin author) invented/predicted the geosynchronous communications satellite.

Moore's Law observation on transistors and computing.

Some other trend line/forecasts seem to be holding up a few years after they were made.

Previously mentioned Drexler (other did as well) global hypertext system = world wide web.

Many demographic predictions have been good.

Product predictions that are non-trivial are subject to variations in corporate execution and market forces. It is like calling the box scores of the world series in X years. Pick the teams right. Get the score right. Get the number of games right. Assume no salary dispute strike. etc...

Nato Welch

Chris and I have had this discussion before, but I still think the killer app of the nanofactory concept is not high-performance products (which I don't deny will happen) but recursive, exponential manufacturing - the ability to scale your automated production capacity exponentially, given only the availbility of material inputs. It's the exponential nature of this that gives MM it's shock value - not the incremental improvement in product performance, which we're already used to, but the suddenness of the improvements unleashed by the recursive nature of the technology.

Of course, it's easy to separate these two aspects of the concept of the desktop //nano//factory. It's conceived from the get go as a fixed array of //molecular// assemblers.

But as the description of Craver's nanoblocks concept is hinting at, there's no reason that a //recursive// fabrication system - one that takes on the exponential capabilities of productive scaling - needs to operate at the molecular scale at all. We could just have easily have a microblocks system, or a larger scale system with components just barely visible to the naked eye. And of course, we already have even larger-scale block systems, in the form of Lego Mindstorms robotics sets that can be assembled by hand. How easy would it be to build a lego set that can replicate itself?

By now, we've strayed quite a ways from nanoscale technology that inspired all of this thought. But the main reason I think that recursive fabrication deserves more attention that molecular assembly is because we are that much closer to recursive fab than we are to molecular manufacturing. Yes, high-performance products will result from atomically precise production and design - but by the time we reach molecular-scale production, the technologies will likely have to be integrated into recursive fabrication techniques that will already have been developed on larger production scales in the intervening time.

Brian Wang


You have made the claim that futurists are always wrong on specifics and timeline.

Yet you were wrong on the statement "But we don't have mass-produced houses" on specifics and timeline of something that has already happened and is a multi-billion dollar industry. One that you were aware of apparently.

it will be tough to get agreement on good predictions if we cannot agree on what is currently happening and has happened.

I guess what you really meant to say was "Factory mass produced houses are the not the dominant method for making homes now throughout most of the world."

Nato Welch


I can understand your points about efficiency being held up by the need to provide jobs, but the livelihoods those bureacratic regulations attempt to protect are not exactly trivial matters to give up on.

It's pretty clear that the advent nanofactories do represent clear threats to the global job market. At the same time we may wish to improve the quality and safety of products, homes, etc., we need to think about being careful not to throw the baby out with the bathwater by rendering vast fractions of people unemployed by automation as represented by MM.

Even if you believe that people can always be retrained into new jobs, it will take a lot longer to accomplish that kind of mass transtion than it will for robotics and MM to make their current jobs obsolete.

For this problem, this is why I tend to advocate some form of Guaranteed Income.


I can imagine few things more disastrous for a society than a Guaranteed Income. See Europe's pension systems for an example of how bad even steps in that direction must be.

Even if every single small manufacturing role became completely replaced with household-owned nanofactories, there would be a net GAIN in jobs, not a net loss.

I was not agreeing with the establishment's inevitable panic over "job loss"; they are completely wrong. I am just saying they will panic, and crush it.

In reality, every single job displaced in an economy equals a lowered cost of living in that economy, and thus a gain in prosperity which will produce a little more than an extra job.

Agriculture used to employ over 90% of all workers in this country. Now it employs less than 2%, and falling. Does this mean we have at least 88% unemployment? No, because our society benefits from having the labor cost of agriculture cut to almost nothing. That cuts the cost of LIVING in this society so much that it frees up MOST of our money so spend on non-agriculture things...and that creates more than 88% new jobs.

If every single manufacturing job in the US were displaced by either nanofactories, or third world factories, it would actually have a net result of increasing prosperity and employment in the US.

And, by the way, I wasn't claiming modular/prefab housing as a futurism failure, I was citing it as an example of how something good for everyone was shut down by Big Brotherment, to protect its own power monopolies and the makework middleman jobs of the construction workers and companies who are thus ensured being able needlessly build houses by hand, for ten times what they need to cost.

Anthropoid robot maids doing dishes and floors, flying cars, and the like are more of what I say are failures.

What Clarke predicted with the communicatios satellite was not the same sort of difficult guess. "You can put something up there and bounce radio off of it" is like me saying "soon we'll just watch TV and video directly over the 'net".

It's not enough of a practical leap to really count as futurism. Same with already-existing hypertext systems being predicted to become the web. It's not like that didn't already exist, in a sense, with gopher.

It's way more neck-sticking-out to predict nanofactories...was even moreso when Feynman did it in 1959.

The difference between the futurists and the regular people expecting regular things to come of obvious advancements in existing technology is that wild leap in detail and scale of prediction. But, naturally, the farther you leap, the harder you almost inevitably fall.

Words of the Sentient:

It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself
a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about
repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the
struggle for independence.
-- Charles A. Beard

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Chris Phoenix, CRN

Nato: "It's interesting that the concern that will likely prevent deployment of assemblers is the same as that for the cited example of flying cars: safety (and the resulting liability concerns). .... We still have questions about the safety - and security - implications even of nanofactories. .... It seems to have taken two decade to refine assemblers into nanofactories."

It took about six years--'86 to '92--to go from published plans for assemblers to published plans for nanofactories. Yes, nanofactories are 14 years old.

The reason assemblers were dropped in favor of nanofactories is because assemblers are a lot less efficient.

The reason it looks like safety was the reason is that--a decade after nanofactories arrived--people were still worried about assembler safety. One of the responses from the people who understood MM, including CRN, was to drive home the point that nanofactories are safer than assemblers.

But that is not why the switch was made in the first place. (And there are ways to make assemblers safe, but it was easier not to fight that battle--not to defend assemblers at all, and simply talk about nanofactories, which had already replaced assemblers.)



To correct an incipient myth, Drexler did not "predict" hypertext or the web; he *described* Xanadu, a proposed hypertext system. The details are very different from the web today and in fact I think there are still people working on Xanadu and concepts that originated there.


Here's an interesting example of how futurists can kind of get something right but the details end up being all wrong. Drexler is writing about the problem of finding good information among the bad:

"Approval of a document (shown by links and recommendations) can come from anyone; readers will pay attention to material recommended by whomever they respect. Conversely, readers who find documents they like will be able to see who has recommended them; this will lead readers to discover people who share their interests and concerns. Indirectly, hypertext will link people and speed the growth of communities. "

This is tantalizingly close to the system which is actually used, Google's PageRank. That does in fact rely on the links of millions of individual web pages to identify information that is of high quality and relevance. But Drexler had in mind that this would be done on a custom basis, that each user would somehow be able to identify which people he would trust and whose links would be meaningful to him. That is not really practical, and Google's method has turned out to be better and more efficient. It is a centralized scheme, exactly what Drexler thought would not work. Drexler's concept here got turned on its head but it is clearly related to what actually happened.

This is what I imagine will happen in other areas as well. Of course, it's impossible for me to predict the details of what is wrong with someone else's predictions, for the same reason. But it remains true that future technologies never work out in the way they were predicted to.

Phillip Huggan

Kaz, 3 consecutive Libertopian banner ads is where I jump in....

Generally, free trade is good for mature industries and kills verdant ones. This is a market failure: an industry takes decades to develop to maturity. The market is too short term here. For decommissioning mature industries the problem isn't Big Brother, it is that industries form powerful lobby groups.

"If every single manufacturing job in the US were displaced by either nanofactories, or third world factories, it would actually have a net result of increasing prosperity and employment in the US."

This is flawed. Prosperity increased as people stopped farming and turned to manufacturing jobs, because the new manufacturing jobs paid more. If nanofacs cause everyone to lose their jobs, there won't be any new employers to provide people with money to buy nanofacs, feedstocks, food, water, air, medical treatment (in the US), and even air (can't leave any public goods, right?).
A Guaranteed Annual Income is not the same thing as a pension. What European nations are you reffering to that have pension problems?
Unions exist because employers are both economically more powerful than employees and less numerous: two more market failures.
There is a country in the world without laws; Iraq (circa 2006) is the Libertarian ideal.


Hal, on a much smaller scale, the kind of personal ranking that Drexler wrote about has come to pass in the form of blogs. If you trust this blog, for example, you are likely to trust the information linked to on CRN. Also, I think the social bookmaking site del.icio.us looks a lot like what Drexler thought about.

Brian Wang

Most famous technological prediction.

President Kennedy:

we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun--almost as hot as it is here today--and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out--then we must be bold.


The moon shot was a horrific waste of our resources, resulting in almost no actually useful technology, relative to it consuming a sizable percentage of our GDP. The moonshot functioned more to PREVENT decent use and development of space...which only now starting to occur.

If Kennedy had predicted "I'll set into motion the consumption of our wealth on a ridiculous boondoggle which will help cause poverty and stagnate technology", then I'd be impressed.

Now the socialist naivete:

Economic freedom works best for growing, "verdant" industries. It also works, fortunately, to keep industries from GETTING overly mature. Unfortunately, we have a government which is allowed to regulate and even openly violate industries, so that as its most successful companies "mature", they begin bribing politicians to "regulate" them for "safety" and other excuses, in order to crush smaller competitors and allow them to "mature" into stagnancy.

As for saying that it's "powerful lobbying groups", and NOT Big Brotherment, which is at fault in stagnating industries, that's like saying that it's gasoline, not drivers, which is at fault for emitting carbon monoxide into our atmosphere.

The only way to prevent powerful forces like corporations and unions from violating our society and economy through the bribing of government officials is to strip the government of the power which makes it WORTH bribing.

You can't stop powerful lobbying groups by making government MORE powerful, as that just makes it more worth bribing them. You can only do it by stripping away the power from the government, itself, so that it can't coerce people, and therefore isn't worth paying off.

You are completely mistaken about nanofactories and jobs, by the way. The reason there were new jobs available for the 88% of workers who left agriculture is that for EVERY worker who left, the cost of producing food fell. That, in turn, made our society more prosperous, creating slightly more than a full new job as a result.

Understand that, at one time, it took 88% OF SOCIETY just to feed its members. This was a massive burden. Each worker actually represents a burden on society, as well as its production. Each one who leaves an industry frees up the price of his wages, to be spent on OTHER things, where jobs will be created anyway. If he can leave it while the product keeps being made, then the cost of his job vanishes AND the wealth his job used to create continues to be produced. It's a win-win.

This will always occur when you get workers out of an industry.

Each worker who stops helping assemble small items, or automobiles, or whatever, because automation can do it is a boon to the whole of society. We all prosper because of it.

And, of course, we all find some OTHER way to spend the money we save because he isn't part of the price of what he used to make. And when we spend that money, a job is created elsewhere...and yet we still get to buy the now-cheaper item he used to make.

> Kaz, 3 consecutive Libertopian banner ads
> is where I jump in....

Yes, I understand how people advocating freedom of choice grates on some people.

Here's another one for you.

Words of the Sentient:

The common argument that crime is caused by poverty is a kind of slander
on the poor. -- H. L. Mencken

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Phillip Huggan

"Yes, I understand how people advocating freedom of choice grates on some people."

What I find (only mildly) annoying is that Libertarians get that physical harm is bad, get that legal/contract breaches are bad, but can't see economic harm is bad. I do respect markets; the easy access to capital markets small business owners in the USA enjoy drives the world's economy.
My point about lobby groups (such as those who would oppose MNT) is that any prospective government that caters to them is more likely to win an election. The parties damaged don't generally realize what they are missing out on. It is a failure of democracy not Big Brother.

"And, of course, we all find some OTHER way to spend the money we save because he isn't part of the price of what he used to make. And when we spend that money, a job is created elsewhere...and yet we still get to buy the now-cheaper item he used to make."

Ahhh!!! Economic doublethink. American and Canadian middle/low class workers are earning less now than they were decades ago; deflationary semiconductor consumer toys are masking this. The way you are using the word "we" is frightening me. There was a Trickle Down Effect present in previous employment paradigm shifts that won't necessary be present post-MNT. A wealthy factory owner paid *graduated* income and property taxes to the government. I doubt a MNT owner will need to pay any taxes given a globalized 21st century world and the mobility MNT afford (can build your own island). When a farmer is rendered obsolete, a new job is not created by an invisible hand in a factory. When a factory worker is fired, a new accounting job does not magically open up. When the white collar worker is laid off, there is no biotech engineering position awaiting. You've got the causality all backwards...

When you say *we* are better off if a farmer is laid off, you mean *we* have the same amount of goods, but now the farmer has more time and the farm machinery owner now has the farmer's wage. The farmer will die (pre social security) if there isn't another employer hiring. A wealthy factory owner needs things to buy for his family, a house, a few mistresses, a car, an accountant, a lawyer, a secretary, a portfolio manager, cover and drinks at a club, ball game tickets, gasoline, heating oil, a mechanic, a carpenter, and a factory making toys for his kid. It is in a wealthy person's own self interest to employee the laid off farmer at the toy factory (don't forget the graduated taxes too). A MNT owner will force a far smaller trickle down effect and there will be fewer MNT owners, possibly one. The MNT owner can make his own toys. The MNT owner can avoid paying income/corporate taxes that would otherwise keep the farmer alive in the form of social security programs. The MNT owner will buy up the entire world's economy if you let him.

So when you say "we" will be better off with Libertarian economic principles post-MNT, you really mean the farmer will starve and the factory owner now has a higher networth. Ironically, the default position of a capitalistic MNT economy may be a 2nd Communist revolution, which would be hilarious if it wasn't so sad, seeing as how America is still traumatized by the 1st one over 90 years ago.


I'm not sure if the next mode of economy will be communism, but I am sure it will be different that the present situation. MNT is just so powerful that I can't see the existing power relationships in our society continuing; that would be like saying that feudalism will go on forever despite the new-found power of the merchant classes. In fact, I'd say that capitalist beliefs as we understand them, will be just as much an anachronism in the future as is the belief of the divine right of kings.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Kaz, what's good for an economy overall isn't always good for the average person. There's a degree of wealth concentration that enables investment and encourages hard work; and there's another degree that sucks money out of an economy.

I'm not an economist, but I'm thinking that there's a connection between automation and wealth concentration. If the cost of making stuff is much less than its value, then the manufacturers can pocket the difference.

Will efficient competition drive down prices? Not necessarily. I haven't heard that free market mechanisms will always prevent cartels and monopolies. (Consider also the hugely inflated figures for IP theft costs. If a legitimate job of government is to prevent theft, and if government listens to big industry, then that alone can be a mechanism of protectionism.

When people were needed in great numbers for manufacturing, then getting them away from food production and into manufacturing jobs was a good thing for the people as well as the economy. But I'm not at all convinced that there will be enough work to keep hundreds of millions of software engineers busy. Might as well hope for enough work to keep tens of millions of famous entertainers busy.


Chris Phoenix, CRN

I think Phillip and I are saying basically the same thing. (I took a break while writing my post, so didn't see his till after I submitted mine.)

Communism is a very bad system, and will continue to be bad post-MM. It is a system for allocating scarce resources by fiat. Markets are the best known mechanism for allocating scarce resources. Communism pretends to produce abundance, but can't even produce sufficiency, because it is based on a disastrous fusion of economics and force.

MM has the potential to make a number of currently-scarce resources non-scarce. We don't yet have a well-integrated system for dealing effectively with non-scarce resources. The modern economic religion is: monetize everything, privatize everything, and let the invisible hand sort it out. This will, at best, result in lost opportunity--when applied to things that need not be scarce, such as basic and easily replicated know-how.

Sometimes, even letting your precious data be copied can result in a financial advantage to you. The movie industry would have lost a lot of business if they had succeeded in squishing the VCR. And last I heard, the Baen Free Library was still considered to be adventageous to the company.

MM manufacturing has the potential to vastly improve both the aggregate economy and the lot of people all across the economic spectrum--as long as it is not encumbered by too many upstream patents. Kaz, I'm curious what you think of the friction and waste caused by software patents (which didn't exist until the mid-80's, and the industry did just fine, thank you), and whether you think that might generalize to other situations of overly aggressive patenting.



I think the topic is drifting somewhat from the question of the accuracy of futurist predictions about nanotech. I'd be interested in a new blog post outlining your ideas about how MM could lead to greater wealth concentration. That seems an unconventional suggestion, I think most people would expect the opposite.

Phillip Huggan

Nice catch Chris in noting how government can act to protect a cartel. Sure your not an economist?
Sorry Nanoenthusiast and Chris, I meant to imply in my reference to communism that the rest of the world would (attempt to)overthrow violently any new MNT Monarchy, similiar to what happen in the Soviet Union in 1917. I didn't mean to imply communism is good/desirable.
Sorry if I seem vehement Kaz, but I view Libertarianism as fascist. Plus I spent too many days reading Atlas Shrugged during the summer of 2001 only to discover Rand made the heroine get raped like it was a good thing, all of the characters were a cigarette commercial, and the heroine suffered from circular philosophical reasoning and didn't understand economics. I could have been polishing off the bulk of Graham's Security Analysis monolith instead. Parts of which I still haven't read to this day...

Phillip Huggan

For the record I really like the idea of widely distributed nanoblock nanofactory. I posted an idea for a product coating to resist lumpy goo on the discussion page of Tom Craver's essay at the Wise Nano wiki.

Tom Mazanec

We will have MM eventually. It is just too tempting. The technology is advancing rapidly. I once read a sci-fi story where the character is released from years in prison for replicating shoes, or something, like a software pirate. He goes back into the underground replicator business...making lots of replicators and giving them away.

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