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Re: [hackers-il] Is Capitalism the Ideal or the State of the Art?

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  • Nadav Har'El
    ... As long as there will still be unduplicatable things, people will find a point to be rich in order to get them. A few things I can think of: 1. Real Estate
    Message 1 of 12 , Apr 3, 2001
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      On Thu, Mar 29, 2001, Shlomi Fish wrote about "[hackers-il] Is Capitalism the Ideal or the State of the Art?":
      > Such a development will make matter as efficiently to duplicate as
      > information is today, so reproducible material property may face a
      > similar turnpoint as intellectual property faces now. So, the question is
      > what will become of selling goods?
      >
      > My theory is that money (which will become un-compulsary for living) will
      > be used to pay for labour (like localizing, configuring or installing a
      > component somewhere), or for such things that cannot be duplicated,
      > whatever they may be. Some people may still be greedy and may wish to be
      > considered rich, (naturally, Gold and other valuables will become
      > worthless, so money will exist only on "paper"), but most people will not
      > find a point in being rich on "paper".

      As long as there will still be unduplicatable things, people will find a point
      to be rich in order to get them. A few things I can think of:

      1. Real Estate - I don't see how you can duplicate a square foot in Manhatten.
      If you live in Tokyo, filling your apartment with Electronic appliances will
      probably cost you less than the apartment itself, so you wouldn't get much
      by getting these appliances for free.
      Of course, you can live in the sahara instead of in Manhatten. but I don't
      see how the demand for an apartment in Manhatten will drop because of the
      possibility of duplicating physical objects.

      2. "Big Things" - Even if duplicating machines appear, I don't see how you
      can actually duplicate a house, not to mention a sky-scraper. These will
      still need unduplicatable work (although robot work can lower the amount
      of human work needed - but robots have been available for years, and I
      don't see them replacing the human builders, especially not in Israel).

      3. Leasure - As someone mentioned, food is already cheap today. You can get
      a big meal at McDonalds for $7, while a more "respectable" restaurant will
      charge you at least $30. What will you actually gain if McDonalds gave out
      food for free (and I'm not talking about poor hungry people - that's another
      issue)? You would still want to go to that $30 restaurant for the more
      virtual benefits that are not the physical foods - better service, more
      physical space (see real estate above), better atmosphere, more "hype", etc.
      If you think these are not important, will you take a date to a McDonalds?
      Would you get married in a McDonalds? (I once had a discussion with a few
      people how come kids' birthdays in McDonalds is acceptable, while a wedding
      in a McDonalds will be laughed at ;) )

      4. Mass, Energy and Entropy - duplicating things is a nice "star-trek" idea,
      but people who know the principles of energy conservation and the second
      law of thermodynamics know that there are a few problems with this idea.
      First, energy has to be conserved, so to create food, or petrol, or something
      like that, you need the energy in the first place. This is not a problem,
      because as Einstein told us, we can convert mass into energy. And we also
      need mass for the mass of the object we're going to create. But where are
      we going to get that mass? Of course, we can take cheap mass like earth or
      sea-water, or something like that, but getting that mass and transporting it
      is non-duplicatable work - just like now, if you want to buy earth or water
      you have to pay someone for it. (Using air as that mass is problematic,
      because you need a lot of air for even a small mass, and this will generate
      a lot of wind in the cities ;))
      Also, you'd have to pay a tax to recycle your entropy :) This is actually
      a big theoretical problem: when you take something and turn it to something
      with lower entropy (and food has lower entropy than sea-water) you need
      to "pay" by making the entropy of something else higher. How would you do
      that? Nobody will want your extra entropy! You'll have to pay somebody to
      relieve you of that extra entropy, just like you pay now to be relieved of
      your garbage and sewage.

      BTW, most people assume that the greatest service the sun does for the
      earth is to provide energy. This is not true - the total energy on earth
      is constant (otherwise it will get hotter and hotter until it eveporates!).
      What the sun actually does is to lower the earth Entropy (the technical
      explanation: a small number of high-energy ultraviolate photons arrive
      at the earth, and a large number (hence more entropy) of low-energy
      infrared-photons are reflected by the earth). The plants are capable of
      trapping this entropy reduction and producing low-entropy food and
      fossil fuel like petrol.


      BTW, already being rich is less and less meaningful, and more and more people
      are saying explicitly "I want to make a decent living but have no desire to
      be rich". This wasn't always true - a century ago you were either rich and
      had all the food you want and all the medicine you needed (not that the
      doctors of a century ago were so successful in curing people ;)) or poor and
      every day needed to think how they'll be able to feed their children and how
      to prevent their children from dying from curable diseases. So when faced
      with the question of being rich or poor, you'd of course prefer to be rich.

      --
      Nadav Har'El | Tuesday, Apr 3 2001, 10 Nisan 5761
      nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
      Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |When everything's coming your way,
      http://nadav.harel.org.il |you're in the wrong lane.
    • Nadav Har'El
      ... I thought about this a little bit, and there s a solution to the mass problem: If the amount of mass entering the house was larger than the amount exiting
      Message 2 of 12 , Apr 3, 2001
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        On Tue, Apr 03, 2001, To hackers-il@yahoogroups.com wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] Is Capitalism the Ideal or the State of the Art?":
        > And we also
        > need mass for the mass of the object we're going to create. But where are
        > we going to get that mass? Of course, we can take cheap mass like earth or
        > sea-water, or something like that, but getting that mass and transporting it
        > is non-duplicatable work - just like now, if you want to buy earth or water
        > you have to pay someone for it. (Using air as that mass is problematic,
        > because you need a lot of air for even a small mass, and this will generate
        > a lot of wind in the cities ;))

        I thought about this a little bit, and there's a solution to the mass problem:
        If the amount of mass entering the house was larger than the amount exiting
        the house was positive, then after some time the entire house will be filled
        with stuff (this is a known problem even nowadays ;)) so that is _not_ what is
        actually happening. So in a steady state you could keep the outgoing mass
        (sewage and garbage) within the house, for "recycling" into new things. You
        will still have some mass deficiancy (because some food mass will be lost as
        CO2 and H2O that are harder to collect, and because you'll have a slow but
        constant increase of the "stuff" you collect in your home), but this
        deficiancy can probably be filled by sucking in air (at around 1.2 kg per
        cubic meter, if I remember correctly).
        For the sake of our atmosphere, cities will estimate the amount of air they
        are using, and have manchines that convert sea-water (for example) to air.
        This will probably be done high above ground so that the generated hurricanes
        of air don't effect people (or birds, or whatever). Perhaps this air can be
        generated with high entropy (i.e., hot) to act as the entropy-sink we also
        need (see my previous post).

        I once heard there's a book called something like "The Physics of Star
        Trek", explaining how the things seen in Star Trek can be possible. Has
        anyone read it? Does it say anything about object replication?



        --
        Nadav Har'El | Tuesday, Apr 3 2001, 10 Nisan 5761
        nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
        Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |If God is watching us, the least we can
        http://nadav.harel.org.il |do is be entertaining.
      • Oleg Goldshmidt
        ... Aren t you running into the entropy problem here? ... Sounds like alchemy. Not really, of course, since transformations between elements are one the
        Message 3 of 12 , Apr 3, 2001
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          "Nadav Har'El" <nyh@...> writes:

          > So in a steady state you could keep the outgoing mass
          > (sewage and garbage) within the house,

          Aren't you running into the entropy problem here?

          > have manchines that convert sea-water (for example) to air.

          Sounds like alchemy. Not really, of course, since transformations
          between elements are one the biggest technological achievements of
          the past century. However, we are talking about transformations
          between elements like oxigen and nitrogen (the latter is not present
          in water IIRC), called "metals" by astronomers. Ask astronomers, and
          they'll tell you that nuclear reactions involving "metals" -- the
          so-called CNO cycle -- are exceedingly slow. The only places in the
          universe where metals are produced are star interiors (no, the Big
          Bang can't do it). I'll skip the details, at least until the list
          applies a moderate peer pressure.

          > Perhaps this air can be generated with high entropy (i.e., hot) to
          > act as the entropy-sink we also need (see my previous post).

          You need energy for that... A truly vicious circle.

          Check the subject - we have wandered very far from it, haven't we?

          --
          Oleg Goldshmidt | ogoldshmidt@...
          "I'd rather write programs to write programs than write programs."
        • Nadav Har'El
          ... Yes, as I said you ll need a way to relieve you of the excess entropy somehow. Entropy sewers? Releasing a small part of the air back to the atmosphere
          Message 4 of 12 , Apr 3, 2001
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            On Tue, Apr 03, 2001, Oleg Goldshmidt wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] Is Capitalism the Ideal or the State of the Art?":
            > "Nadav Har'El" <nyh@...> writes:
            >
            > > So in a steady state you could keep the outgoing mass
            > > (sewage and garbage) within the house,
            >
            > Aren't you running into the entropy problem here?

            Yes, as I said you'll need a way to "relieve" you of the excess entropy
            somehow. Entropy sewers? Releasing a small part of the air back to the
            atmosphere very hot? Releasing hydrogen (you can release more atoms per
            weight, so you increase the entropy)? I don't know.

            > > have manchines that convert sea-water (for example) to air.
            >
            > Sounds like alchemy. Not really, of course, since transformations
            > between elements are one the biggest technological achievements of
            > the past century. However, we are talking about transformations
            > between elements like oxigen and nitrogen (the latter is not present
            > in water IIRC), called "metals" by astronomers. Ask astronomers, and
            > they'll tell you that nuclear reactions involving "metals" -- the
            > so-called CNO cycle -- are exceedingly slow. The only places in the
            > universe where metals are produced are star interiors (no, the Big
            > Bang can't do it). I'll skip the details, at least until the list
            > applies a moderate peer pressure.

            Of course, there are several technical issues I didn't mention because I
            thought that everybody knows about them and they are straightforward to
            think about (but not to actually implement), and also because I thought
            they had no relevance to the capitalism issue. These issues is how to create
            the atoms or simple molecules you need (will you require input of the same
            mulecules, say "cartridges" of oxigen, hydrogen and iron, or will you
            convert any material to the atoms you need? The latter is more flexible of
            course), and how to actually manufacture the object in question (this is
            a seperate issue all together - see for example the best-seller "Nano" about
            nanotechnology).

            > > Perhaps this air can be generated with high entropy (i.e., hot) to
            > > act as the entropy-sink we also need (see my previous post).
            >
            > You need energy for that... A truly vicious circle.

            It's not a vicious circle. Assuming we have the proper "alchemy" technology,
            energy is equivalent to mass, and you can create both of them from any mass
            like sea-water (if you don't like to use the E=MC^2 theory for that, just
            think of converting water to petrol, and then using up that petrol, or convert
            water into Uranium and do some fission :))

            So you if you have mass you have plenty of energy - it's getting rid of all
            that entropy which is the problem.

            Again, think of plants: why do they go into all the trouble of using sunlight
            (which is not available at night, in winter, under trees, etc.) when the
            "obvious" alternative will be to use the warmth of the ground they are on?
            After all, even a frozen ground contains a lot of heat energy (the point where
            it does not contain any more heat energy is "absolute zero" -273 celcius).
            Sounds a good idea? Well, it isn't. The second law of thermodynamics says
            that you cannot move heat energy from a cold place to a warmer place (an
            action that decreases entropy) without investing more energy in making
            something else warmer (thereby increasing the entropy of the system back) -
            so the plant will only waste energy. This is how refrigerators and air-
            conditioners work. A refrigerator indeed pulls heat energy out from the
            objects in it, but far from producing energy - it needs to waste that and more
            energy just to run this refrigeration cycle. Touch the back of a refrigerator
            to get a feel for that energy that goes to waste because of thermodynamics.

            Thermodynamics is actually a very interesting subject, but quite difficult
            to comprehend at first (I still don't think I fully understand it all).

            > Check the subject - we have wandered very far from it, haven't we?

            Not really! We were talking about whether replication machines will relieve
            you of the need to depend on others (i.e., pay others money), and I was saying
            how you still have some unsolved (or at least which I don't know the solution)
            problems that will keep your dependence on others. The thermodynamic issue
            was only one of the issues I raised.

            Certainly it has nothing to do with hacking, but the original question
            didn't either :)

            P.S. If you consider this only as a philosphical question, not a question
            with physical issues, it becomes a pointless question. This is because
            your replication machine can "philosophically" create a whole new planet
            for you, filled with copies of friendly and compliant people that will
            serve you, and an army with a huge arsenal to fend of the attacks of
            lawyers on your planet, so none of the financial issues are relevant any
            more :)

            --
            Nadav Har'El | Tuesday, Apr 3 2001, 10 Nisan 5761
            nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
            Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |Why do doctors call what they do
            http://nadav.harel.org.il |practice? Think about it.
          • Oleg Goldshmidt
            Allow me to re-arrange your posting a bit to put the following two statements together: ... ;-) I wholeheartedly agree with both statements. Having studied
            Message 5 of 12 , Apr 3, 2001
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              Allow me to re-arrange your posting a bit to put the following two
              statements together:

              "Nadav Har'El" <nyh@...> writes:

              > Of course, there are several technical issues I didn't mention because I
              > thought that everybody knows about them and they are straightforward to
              > think about

              > Thermodynamics is actually a very interesting subject, but quite difficult
              > to comprehend at first (I still don't think I fully understand it all).

              ;-)

              I wholeheartedly agree with both statements. Having studied physics
              for quite a few years, and worked in the area, 10% I tend to think that
              everybody knows everything relevant, and 90% of the time I am baffled
              by things I can't understand...

              > course), and how to actually manufacture the object in question (this is
              > a seperate issue all together - see for example the best-seller "Nano" about
              > nanotechnology).

              By Ed Regis? Is it worth reading? The Amazon reviews are mixed at
              best...

              > if you don't like to use the E=MC^2 theory for that

              No, I don't. I don't know how to handle antimatter that is implicitly
              involved in this formula... ;-)

              > So you if you have mass you have plenty of energy - it's getting rid of all
              > that entropy which is the problem.

              I just mentioned another one, a purre technicality, of course.

              > > Check the subject - we have wandered very far from it, haven't we?
              >
              > Not really!

              I forgot to put a smiley there.

              > The thermodynamic issue was only one of the issues I raised.

              Maintaining income gap as a means of keeping the world's entropy in
              check? [NB: no smiley here]

              > P.S. If you consider this only as a philosphical question, not a question
              > with physical issues, it becomes a pointless question.

              <troll> That's true about any question, isn't it? </troll>

              --
              Oleg Goldshmidt | ogoldshmidt@...
              "I'd rather write programs to write programs than write programs."
            • Nadav Har'El
              ... Yes, it s by Ed Regis. It s mostly a biography of Eric Drexler (see www.foresight.org), some guy who dabbled in the issues of nanotechnology (mostly
              Message 6 of 12 , Apr 3, 2001
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                On Tue, Apr 03, 2001, Oleg Goldshmidt wrote about "Re: [hackers-il] Is Capitalism the Ideal or the State of the Art?":
                > > course), and how to actually manufacture the object in question (this is
                > > a seperate issue all together - see for example the best-seller "Nano" about
                > > nanotechnology).
                >
                > By Ed Regis? Is it worth reading? The Amazon reviews are mixed at
                > best...

                Yes, it's by Ed Regis. It's mostly a biography of Eric Drexler (see
                www.foresight.org), some guy who dabbled in the issues of nanotechnology
                (mostly talking, in my opinion). It isn't one of the greatest books I've
                read, I have to admit. A lot more talk and politics than actual technical
                details. You might say it was _slightly_ interesting, not more than that.

                >
                > > if you don't like to use the E=MC^2 theory for that
                >
                > No, I don't. I don't know how to handle antimatter that is implicitly
                > involved in this formula... ;-)

                Ooops... You're right... I forgot about the other laws of conservation,
                like conservation of baryonic number (or whatever it called, you know
                that quantatity that protons and neutrons have 1 of and electrons or
                photons have 0) and spin (bosons like photons have whole numbers, fermions
                like protons and neutrons have half numbers) and charge. So that I guess if
                these laws of conservation are not overruled by the "grand unified theory",
                whatever that will be, you'll need to either keep the same numbers and types
                of elementary particles in your original "raw" material, or be prepared to
                handle the extra matter (or anti-matter).

                Sounds complicated, but seems a lot better than keeping seperate stocks
                of chemical elements lying around. "Damn, I ran out of chloride. Now all
                my food will taste bland." :)

                --
                Nadav Har'El | Tuesday, Apr 3 2001, 11 Nisan 5761
                nyh@... |-----------------------------------------
                Phone: +972-53-245868, ICQ 13349191 |Early bird gets the worm, but the second
                http://nadav.harel.org.il |mouse gets the cheese.
              • Oleg Goldshmidt
                ... As I said earlier, keep a star around (a yellow G-type would do quite nicely, thank you), point the remote at it, and press the fast forward button... ;-)
                Message 7 of 12 , Apr 4, 2001
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                  "Nadav Har'El" <nyh@...> writes:

                  > Sounds complicated, but seems a lot better than keeping seperate stocks
                  > of chemical elements lying around.

                  As I said earlier, keep a star around (a yellow G-type would do quite
                  nicely, thank you), point the remote at it, and press the fast forward
                  button... ;-)

                  --
                  Oleg Goldshmidt | ogoldshmidt@...
                  "I'd rather write programs to write programs than write programs."
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