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RE: Nano's-futuristic impact?

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  • Andrew Trapp
    ... This is true to a degree; if I decided to only accept sea shells as payment for my services, I could soon find myself hard-pressed for a job, even if my
    Message 1 of 11 , Dec 13, 1999
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      At 09:28 AM 12/13/99 -0800, you wrote:
      >From: "Alan Heaberlin" <amh@...>
      >Money is merely symbolic. It is only in its
      >acceptance that there is any value.

      This is true to a degree; if I decided to only accept sea shells as payment for
      my services, I could soon find myself hard-pressed for a job, even if my skills
      are in demand. Similarly, we have come to accept our dollars as "fiat"
      currency, essentially meaning that they are no longer backed by gold--which
      itself has a certain "accepted" value.

      >When our world
      >has been revolutionized by nanotechnology what
      >will have intrinsic value? Energy? Time?
      >Longevity?

      Energy might; my money is on information. Services, matter, land (to a lesser
      degree perhaps), and creative endeavors will also be quite valued.

      >Today we rely on the symbolic value of money
      >because that's the way it works best for
      >government.

      I disagree; money is almost universally accepted because it works best for
      individual peoples. It acts as a store of value, greatly simplifying
      transactions and bartering. Just try using a webmaster job to obtain food.
      You can either try to sell your services to every farmer around, or you can
      work for just one company, which pays you your wages in a form--money--that is
      much easier to trade for food.

      Now, the form that money takes post-nano is certainly open for debate. Regular
      coins and bills will likely go out, since (in theory anyway) you could just
      replicate yourself a big pile of $100 bills atomically indistinguishable from
      real ones. That leaves electronic currency, and some form of hard currency
      such as precious metals (e.g. gold).

      Electronic currency has its advantages and disadvantages. In a sense it's
      harder to conduct transactions because both parties have to have the right
      equipment. It's not as easy to pay the neighborhood kid $20 for mowing your
      lawn, or giving a buck or two to a homeless person. There are also serious
      privacy considerations with e-currency, though these are mostly political
      rather than technological. (Will govt. allow anonymous e-currency? And if
      not, how would it enforce such a ban?)

      Precious metals such as gold coins may continue to be used because, while
      nanotech may make the elements easier to mine, it can not actually create them
      per se. I don't think we have to worry too much that gold will drop to 2 cents
      an ounce just because we're able to scrape a few extra atoms out of the ground
      or ocean. And in any event, they would just adjust their value accordingly by
      the rules of supply & demand, just like regular currency does today.

      >What kind of government can we predict
      >of a nano-future? Almost certainly a world-wide
      >central government.

      Why? I see no need for such an entity from a regulatory point of view, nor do
      I think such an entity _could_ regulate nanotech. (Just look at how
      unsuccessful govts. are at keeping illegal drugs banned.) One of the big
      promises of nanotech is the further decentralization of production, from the
      factory level to the individual or household level. This would point to less
      govt., not more.

      >We would have that kind of
      >government now but for the complications of fair
      >distribution.

      And the fact that no one can agree on what's "fair", or that govt. even has any
      business redistributing things. I certainly don't see these fundamental
      disagreements going away post-nanotech.

      >In order for the concept of a one-world government
      >to work, there can be no non-productive members of
      >the society (or overpopulation!).

      Who decides who or what is productive? Is a homeless and unemployed person
      non-productive? By most accounts, yes. What about the disabled? The
      retired? Children? Those simply living off of their savings & investments?
      Artisans & authors who produce works no one wants? People working on a project
      that later gets scrapped before producing any tangible results? Govt.
      bureaucrats who just go around making work for each other & others through red
      tape and pork barrel projects?

      >This is why
      >emerging countries allow their populations of
      >non-technical, uneducated, unproductive people to
      >die from famine and disease. We have plenty of
      >examples of this being encouraged by their
      >governments (Ethiopia, Somalia, etc.)

      But even non-technical, uneducated people can farm, or work factory jobs.
      Generally, it takes work for a govt. to keep people unproductive. Although, I
      will not presume that govts. always act rationally or in the best interests of
      their citizens....

      >The emergence of any technology isn't enough to
      >counteract 50,000 years of the evolution of a
      >warlike tribe of nomadic hunter-gatherers, who are
      >more motivated by greed and envy than by any
      >desire for peaceful utopian society.

      Greed and envy can be used for positive ends, for instance as motivators to do
      better, to improve yourself and your conditions. An economic system that
      allows competition to flourish can do wonders for innovation, for instance.

      >I argue that there will always be someone jealous
      >of power and prepared to exert it at the expense
      >of someone else. Preventing the emergence of
      >Nano-Masters will be the greatest challenge...Or
      >preserving your position as Nano-Master.

      I'm not so sure that "nano-masters" are anything we seriously have to worry
      about. How would they keep their grip on power? What form would this power
      take? (Political? Monetary? Land? Patents? Military?) Most of the schemes
      I've read about for some authoritarian nano-presence require rather
      far-reaching and far-fetched means of control. Such means of control would
      likely be so troublesome and/or expensive (yes, even in a nanotech era) as to
      not be worth the trouble. It would be like Wal-Mart hiring an army of soldiers
      to make sure everyone shops only at Wal-Marts...just not practical.

      >Cynical? Yes, but I can see no historical example
      >of any technology changing basic human nature.

      The light bulb made it possible to work in non-daylight hours. Radio & TV have
      totally changed the way humans entertain themselves; how often do we migrate to
      the town amphitheater to watch a live play? And technology in virtually every
      field of work has greatly boosted human productivity, allowing us to produce
      more and have more. Even the internet has ushered in a great new era of
      communication...just look at this forum. Could we be having these discussions
      about nanotech without the internet? Then there's the automobile. We think
      nothing of driving to the store just to pick up a gallon of milk. How mobile
      would we be if we still depended on horses?

      I'm sure I and others could come up with plenty of other examples. We are
      already very different than humans of just a century ago.

      >Arguably, our technology has only encouraged us to
      >become more greedy and less utopian than we were
      >before the "Industrial Revolution" and
      >"Information Age."

      That's good. Greed is a motivator. And the more we look at "utopia" (whose
      version?), the more unworkable and full of conflict we see it to be.

      >One of our intrepid listers has espoused the
      >notion that no technology has ever been driven by
      >ethical consideration. Maybe that's the missing
      >component in the futuristic considerations of
      >Nanotechnology.

      As a moral relativist, I'll have to ask, whose set of ethics do we use? At
      what point do one's ethics simply become one's interests, preferences, and
      desires? And who gets the final word?

      >(Adjusting my flame-resistant Nomex underwear
      >now.)
      >Alan Heaberlin

      I'm not one to engage in namecalling or questioning others' intelligence simply
      because I disagree with them. But I hope, also, that you will not see my
      disagreements and objections as any sort of personal attack.

      --
      Andrew Trapp +--Atheism
      dreamer-71@... +--Libertarianism
      http://www.geocities.com/dreamer-71 <=-----+--Futurism
      ICBMinfo: 40deg05'06" N 88deg12'41" W
      Help your favorite cause or charity--free! Visit http://www.iGive.com
    • Andrew Derry
      ... I think it s a little more complicated than simply fair distribution... however.. ... Why not? When nano comes, one might easily think that almost
      Message 2 of 11 , Dec 13, 1999
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        At 09:28 AM 12/13/99 -0800, Alan Heaberlin wrote:
        >From: "Alan Heaberlin" <amh@...>
        >What kind of government can we predict
        >of a nano-future? Almost certainly a world-wide
        >central government. We would have that kind of
        >government now but for the complications of fair
        >distribution.

        I think it's a little more complicated than simply fair distribution...
        however..

        >In order for the concept of a one-world government
        >to work, there can be no non-productive members of
        >the society (or overpopulation!).

        Why not? When nano comes, one might easily think that almost everyone
        could become a non-productive member of society.. heck, let the nanites do
        the work, once we get to the point they're capable.. of course they can't
        do all the work, but on the other hand, not everybody will want to not
        work.. should balance out, at least, IMHO.

        >The emergence of any technology isn't enough to
        >counteract 50,000 years of the evolution of a
        >warlike tribe of nomadic hunter-gatherers, who are
        >more motivated by greed and envy than by any
        >desire for peaceful utopian society.

        Why not?

        >I argue that there will always be someone jealous
        >of power and prepared to exert it at the expense
        >of someone else.

        Perhaps.. perhaps the sole role of "government" will be to prevent that
        type of person from doing just that.

        > Preventing the emergence of
        >Nano-Masters will be the greatest challenge...Or
        >preserving your position as Nano-Master.

        Quite possibly there will be power struggles at the beginning, yes.. and
        who knows, maybe into the future.. but there's nothing to say this is an
        inherent trait.. more like something that evolved as a means of
        survival. If consciousness can be enhanced and/or transformed, we could
        simply remove that like a wart.

        >Cynical?

        Perhaps if you think this a more likely guess than some of the other
        happier predictions. ;)

        > Yes, but I can see no historical example
        >of any technology changing basic human nature.

        You also see no historical example that could change the basic rules of
        play so fundamentally that's even _remotely_ close to what nano could
        potentially do. You might as well ask a blind person to tell you what the
        color green is like.

        >Arguably, our technology has only encouraged us to
        >become more greedy and less utopian than we were
        >before the "Industrial Revolution" and
        >"Information Age."

        I won't disagree there, but again comparing "our technology" to the
        potential of nano seems pointless.. you would have an easier time getting a
        caveman to imagine trading in his club for a computer and guess at what it
        might be used for. Much easier, I would think.

        >One of our intrepid listers has espoused the
        >notion that no technology has ever been driven by
        >ethical consideration. Maybe that's the missing
        >component in the futuristic considerations of
        >Nanotechnology.

        I think there's a lot more than that missing.. considering that it's
        possible that our very mind, bodies, and brains could be changed by this
        coming technology. Imagine being able to increase your consciousness a
        thousand fold, or more.. make your memory permanent and instantly
        recallable.. be able to do any calculations you wish a billion times faster
        than all the supercomputers in the world today.. or more.. I think that
        technology will come. Don't want to hook your brain into it? Don't
        worry.. _someone_ else will be happy to.. and what will that person think?



        >(Adjusting my flame-resistant Nomex underwear
        >now.)

        Oops.. (*searching his pockets for his lighter*) sorry, I don't seem to
        have a light for my rusty flamethrower. ;)



        Cheers

        Andrew
      • steve wishnevsky
        ... Money hasn t had intrinsic value since the gold standard.... money is just a counting medium. ... intelligence ... does not follow.... the trend now is to
        Message 3 of 11 , Dec 13, 1999
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          Alan Heaberlin wrote:

          > From: "Alan Heaberlin" <amh@...>
          >
          > > -----Original Message-----
          > > From: RCETMORGAN@...
          > > [mailto:RCETMORGAN@...]
          > > Sent: Saturday, December 11, 1999 10:00 AM
          > > To: nanotech@onelist.com
          > > Subject: [nanotech] Nano's-futuristic impact?
          > >
          > >
          > > From: RCETMORGAN@...
          > >
          > > Money is merely symbolic. It is only in its
          > acceptance that there is any value.

          Money hasn't had intrinsic value since the gold standard.... money is
          just a counting medium.

          > When our world
          > has been revolutionized by nanotechnology what
          > will have intrinsic value? Energy? Time?
          > Longevity?

          intelligence

          > Today we rely on the symbolic value of money
          > because that's the way it works best for
          > government. What kind of government can we predict
          > of a nano-future? Almost certainly a world-wide
          > central government.

          does not follow.... the trend now is to decentralization, and the
          dismantling of empires. For example, america just relinquished the panama
          canal, and the soviet union dissolved.

          > We would have that kind of
          > government now but for the complications of fair
          > distribution.
          > In order for the concept of a one-world government
          > to work, there can be no non-productive members of
          > the society (or overpopulation!). This is why
          > emerging countries allow their populations of
          > non-technical, uneducated, unproductive people to
          > die from famine and disease. We have plenty of
          > examples of this being encouraged by their
          > governments (Ethiopia, Somalia, etc.)
          > Alternatively, some governments develop classes of
          > slaves and serfs (China, Russia). Marginally
          > better than killing them but serving the function
          > of isolating them and getting some return on their
          > subsistence expenses.

          again i don't see this... the examples you quote are the most inefficient
          governments on earth... somalia has barely achieved tribalism, much less any
          form of planned economy. Russia is almost anarchistic as it is forced to
          capitalize. It reminds me of america a century and a half ago, when there
          was no real line between the legal and illegal economies

          > The emergence of any technology isn't enough to
          > counteract 50,000 years of the evolution of a
          > warlike tribe of nomadic hunter-gatherers, who are
          > more motivated by greed and envy than by any
          > desire for peaceful utopian society.
          > I argue that there will always be someone jealous
          > of power and prepared to exert it at the expense
          > of someone else. Preventing the emergence of
          > Nano-Masters will be the greatest challenge...Or
          > preserving your position as Nano-Master.
          > Cynical? Yes, but I can see no historical example
          > of any technology changing basic human nature.
          >

          the only progress ever is technological.. or do you get your food by rapine
          and pillage?... most of us take advantage of the marvelous cooperative
          enterprise called the super market, that brings us foods from all over the
          world at the lowest prices in history.

          > Arguably, our technology has only encouraged us to
          > become more greedy and less utopian than we were
          > before the "Industrial Revolution" and
          > "Information Age."
          > One of our intrepid listers has espoused the
          > notion that no technology has ever been driven by
          > ethical consideration. Maybe that's the missing
          > component in the futuristic considerations of
          >

          that was me, and you missed my point. true that no technology has ever
          been successfully repressed, but equally, only technologically advanced
          societies have the economic surpluses necessary for the luxury of ethics....
          how many hunter gatherers do you suppose would support PETA? As Liza
          Dolittle's father said, " Morals, Gov'nor...Can't afford them."... steve w.

          > Nanotechnology.
          > (Adjusting my flame-resistant Nomex underwear
          > now.)
          >
          > Alan Heaberlin
          >
          > > The Nanotechnology Industries mailing list.
          > "Nanotechnology: solutions for the future."
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