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3174Re: [nanotech] economics, nanofacturing, and the social implications

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  • Andrew
    May 31 10:03 PM
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      First off, as it has already been said, it may be a good exercise to
      take a look back over the last sixty to seventy years, and find all the
      many different things that were said "will" be happening by the year
      2004. One must realize that predictions, from weather to financial to
      temporal, are almost always wrong.

      That said, the ideas you put forth sound very compelling.

      "Anyway, a system such as that would allow communities to build their
      own vehicles, make their own toasters, etc. If it could become
      cost-effective, I can even envision smaller versions of the system in
      your home. You pay for the elements, the compounds, and the design of
      whatever product you wish to have. "

      If I might make a few suggestions for the setting?

      1) Have municipal governments incorporate waste extraction and garbage
      disposal with the supply of "elements and compounds." This of course
      would only be for large scale or problematic trash. Many houses would
      likely be able to extract their own materials from garbage, much in the
      same way one composts vegetable peels in their back yard, except that
      items such as scrap metal, wood, plastics, yard wastes, anything really,
      would be processed. These materials could be trunked directly into
      building repairs, or the creation of household products. Food may even
      be possible if the assembly process is intricate enough, and organic
      materials utilized properly.

      2) A possible scenario might involve an end to, or decrease in, what is
      generally termed as ‘hydraulic despotism.’

      The term comes from the British occupation of India. The British
      constructed irrigation and plumbing systems that carried water inland,
      creating cities in areas where they couldn’t have existed before. Then,
      once civic design and population density was past the point of no
      return, they jacked up the taxes to oppressive levels. The populace
      tried to resist. . . but then the British turned the water off. People
      had no where to go, and died in the thousands from dehydration and
      dysentery. The water came back on once the taxes were paid.

      In Europe and North America we are also subject to a similar, if not
      more benign, form of hydraulic despotism. Water, sewers, electricity,
      telecommunications, food distribution, natural gas, petroleum; all these
      are infused items that make our urban centers possible. The scale of
      nanotechological development you are describing might reduce many of
      these dependencies to inconsequentials. It would be interesting to see
      if this resulted in the resurgence of the Ashram/Kibutz systems.

      3) You might explore an open-source community of pattern designers.
      People might create designs that people could ‘download’ for free, or
      very low cost, and then use them to create them in these assemblers you
      propose. So if I can get the pattern for a kick-ass sports car designed
      by my genius cousin in Hamilton, or furniture from a carpenter I know in
      Berlin, and get insane amounts of scrap from my drinking buddy down the
      road. . . well. None of us have got any need to buy anything from
      anybody; we just pool our resources, and there you go.

      “As for the state of capitalism, well it is a product of the industrial
      age, an age that demanded massive social communities called nations.”

      You might want to pull out your history books and do a bit of a review
      there. These ‘massive social communities called nations’ predate the
      industrial revolution by more than 5,000 years. Names like Babylon,
      Egypt, Greece, Rome, China, The Persian Empire, England, India, and
      Japan, are a few names that pop up as minor examples.

      In regards to capitalism, many of the aforementioned cultures used cash
      money, had banks, interest rates, loans, investors, etc., and all
      predate the industrial revolution. My personal favorite is the use of
      compressed bricks of tea all over Asia prior to the late 1800s, and the
      basing of local currencies on tea. Granted, we in the West have indeed
      raised mamon to a near fetishist level, but whether one uses a ten
      dollar bill, two live hens, or a Roman silver denarius to purchase food
      from the market, is immaterial. We’re still talking about an object
      being given the function of representing value in an abstract form for
      the purposes of exchange. Cash may not be the medium used, but there
      will likely be money of some sort. And there’s no reason to assume
      these monies will be earned or exchanged in the same manner we do today.

      “The new economy would actually contain elements of both capitalism and
      communism, with local communities existing as corporations (corporations
      that, nonetheless, had competition from within).”

      I personally got a good chuckle out of that one. To put forth
      capitalism (which is basically feudalism with value transferred from
      land wealth over to monetary wealth) and communism as reference points,
      and then call upon the corporation, whose power structure is fascist,
      was quite amusing. I’d suggest looking at socialism, unless the
      fictional society you are creating has the totalitarian bents endemic in
      the three power structures you mentioned.

      Your plot idea sounds refreshing to my ears, and similar on a few points
      to a story I’ve been drafting. We should compare notes.

      Andrew L.
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