A few words on freedom from the Lab Lemming, on the fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago.
He has some good points: many of us take freedom for granted today, but it's not so long ago that people were routinely shot or imprisoned for trying to leave the Soviet Union. And even in the West, today, our freedom is far from perfect.Freedom is not an absolute or universal good. I've heard a Chinese woman say, "Choice is pain." How much freedom do you want? The same police who give me tickets for parking my car on the grass in my own front yard, also prevent my neighbors from blasting loud music late at night. And there are other tradeoffs. Do I want to live in a society where kids are protected? Of course... to some extent... but recently in Holland a teenage girl was taken away from her family because they were letting her go on long sailing voyages alone.
Freedom is, to a large extent, a product of society. As the basis of our economy changes, our various freedoms are likely to change as well.
How much freedom will be appropriate to an economy where a few percent of workers are enough to do the manufacturing (just as a few percent are enough to do the agriculture) and the rest have to find other kinds of work? On the face of it, manufacturing jobs don't seem especially free, so we might expect our freedom to increase. But the transition will probably come with economic pain, which decreases freedom.
And if we get more freedom than we are comfortable with, we are likely to give it away... perhaps even give too much of it away... or perhaps give away freedoms that we really need, while fighting to keep less important freedoms. This process may be encouraged by people who are good at making us worry about the wrong things (which includes a wide range of media - fear sells).
In the end, if molecular manufacturing leads to an economic revolution, what effects will that have on freedom? If the products of molecular manufacturing revolutionize military and police forces, what effects will that have? Will we recognize the new choice points - not just governmental, but also corporate and social?