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Will nanobots alter how our brains function?

from the So-what's-really-real dept.
Gina Miller writes "An audience at the Boston Fall Sensors Expo conference and exhibition was exposed in a keynote entitled 'The Rapidly Shrinking Sensor: Merging Bodies and Brain' to the idea that within a few decades nanodevices will fundamentally alter how our brains function. A September 26 EETimes article Inventor foresees implanted sensors aiding brain functions reports 'provocative predictions' by speech-recognition pioneer and Foresight Advisor Ray Kurzweil that 'by 2030 nanosensors could be injected into the human bloodstream, implanted microchips could amplify or supplant some brain functions, and individuals could share memories and inner experiences by 'beaming' them electronically to others'."

39 Responses to “Will nanobots alter how our brains function?”

  1. Mr_Farlops Says:

    200 Calculations Per Second?!?

    I agree that we will create sapient artificial organisms sooner than the naysayers think but Kurzweil is oversimplifying things in stating that the human brain is a 200 flop machine. That's the sort of false equivalence that gave AI a bad reputation in the first place.

    First, it's certainly a mistake to equate the state changes of a logic gate with processes that take place inside a neuron.

    A neuron is a chemical machine with many millions of parts that change state. From microsecond to microsecond, even while the neuron is not actively communicating with neighboring neurons, there are hundreds of interacting and interlocked chemical processes taking place inside a neuron.

    Which of these chemical processes is equivalent to NAND gate or a half-adder is anyone's guess right now. Until we figure this out, making comparisions in terms of clock cycles and flops abuses the metaphor and will only be discredited later on.

    My opinion is that the brain, when we finally get down to reproducing all the essential processes needed for consciousness, start to finish, will be equivalent to many, many exaflops.

  2. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Social Inertia

    Kurzweil often eludes to the accelerating pace of technological change and these latest statements he and others have made have made me think about the exponentiation of technological change, one of the central underpinnings of the singularity idea.

    I've always been a little skeptical of concepts like the singularity and such ideas because they seem to ignore the economic feedback loop needed to fund product development. Even if science contracts the research and development time needed to engineer new products to the space of month, weeks or even hours, how on earth can consumers be expected to keep up with the dizzying rate of change?

    If consumers are unwilling to spend money on some new consumer device becuase they know that a better device will come along in the space of a few months or weeks, why will companies spend the resources on research and development in the first place if they can't be certain of demand?

    The computer industry has managed to elude this problem so far but it has a 2 year cycle of obsolesence. What if this continues to shrink? The current doldrums the IT sector is in is partly due to the fact that even fairly old machines can do everything the average citizen needs (Computer games and multimedia processing aside.) and this eliminates demand. What if this social inertia spreads to other technology sectors?

    For example, why have an operation now, assuming your condition is not life threatening, if you know a better technique will be availible next week? If the doctors don't get paid, they won't have the money to research new techniques and thus the feedback loop fails to be established–social inertia.

    Anyone have comments on this wildly offtopic subject?

  3. Practical Transhuman Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    The current doldrums the IT sector is in is partly due to the fact that even fairly old machines can do everything the average citizen needs (Computer games and multimedia processing aside.) and this eliminates demand. What if this social inertia spreads to other technology sectors?

    In other words, what is progress for? If you've solved maybe 90% of a problem compared with previous constraints, whittling away at that last 10% won't make much practical difference. After all, you've already done all the relatively cheap & easy things. It's well known that the cost of the new factory for the next generation of chips doubles along with computing speeds. The exponential increase in startup capital needed to sustain Moore's Law threatens to stop computing progress just as surely as a conscious Luddite campaign, especially if the American economy enters "your grandfather's recession," as Paul Krugman phrased it recently — in other words, a Depression, with a capital-D, based on a massive overinvestment in IT and telecommunications.

  4. wurp Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    I think that when MNT becomes fairly mature, we will have to migrate from an economy of scarcity to a gift economy or some other radically different economy. If food, transportation, living space, and entertainment can all be produced without human interaction (and I believe they can), then people will refuse to sell their lives to corporate interests and are left to work on whatever takes their fancy, rather than whatever market forces drive them to.

    For some people, this will mean gardening, social activities, or other idle hobbies that don't contribute to the big picture. For lots of people, though, new technology will be of interest, or new social structures, or radical new art, and I believe these heavy hobbies will lead to something resembling the singularity.

  5. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    "I think that when MNT becomes fairly mature, we will have to migrate from an economy of scarcity to a gift economy or some other radically different economy."

    Actually I'm skeptical of the "nanotechnology-will-elimate-scarcity" idea too. The agricultural sector, the stoop labor of migrant farm workers aside, is mostly automated now, yet produce, meat and dairy still cost a small amount of money. The industrial sector, cheap labor in overseas factories aside, is almost to the point that the agricultural sector is now–fewer people make more things. And this has made things so cheap that even rather poor people can afford things like VCRs and television sets. But the cost of these things never falls to zero.

    Yes, nano will radically reduce many costs but a few significant ones will remain–expertise, time, space and perhaps others. Experts and land will still be scarce and this will keep costs from falling to zero. Things still take time to make, even if you tell your desktop factory to grow some new diving gear for you you still have to wait around for it to finish.

    If anything nano will only lead to a rescaling of value. This will probably look like inflation in some cases or it might look rapid gains or losses of various products and services in comparison to one another. Television sets used to be very expensive but, now you can buy a cheap TV for less than 50 bucks–even then they had to cram in a lot of features to keep the cost that high.

    A car may only cost a few dollars (in terms of materials and energy.) to make in the nanotech future but paying for the software that runs the garage-sized factory that grows it will still cost someone plenty to code and test. That cost will passed on to the consumer. Feature creep and mass-customization will also be a way to add value and cost.

    Look at the software industry–even the open source software industry. It's an approximation of what a mature nanotech industry might look like–products that are very expensive to design and test, yet very cheap to reproduce. Microsoft makes a lot of money even though each XP CD costs fractions of a cent to make. Even RedHat makes some money on providing technical support, documentation and consulting on GNU/Linux. Perhaps you're geek enough not to need RedHat to hold your hand but it still cost you time and motivation to learn how to run Linux for yourself–time you could have spent doing something else–see? Costs don't magically disappear.

    Having said all that, I find your idea of hobbyists as driving technological exponentiation interesting. If I self-indulgently keep buying the latest computer games, am I doing my part to drive civilization forward?

    I don't know if I agree that we'll all be blessed with endless free time. People have said this before and nothing has come of it. In fact I think the proportion of leisure time hasn't changed in nearly 500 years.

    What really happens, I think, is that things change and get redefined.

    Mobile phones give us more flexibility in planning our schedules and trips so, what do we do? We cram in more trips and more planning and gobble up all that time that the mobile phones gave us. Result: We remain vexed and driven.

    But I'd argue that, on the whole, we are no more and no less vexed and driven than any busy person in the seventeenth century was. The only thing that has really changed is the that the tasks we complain about are much less physically grinding then the tasks of ancient farmers. Even peasents in ancient China found time to make merry and engage in idle thoughts.

    A growing percentage of us don't have to mine coal anymore to make a living but do we really have more or less leisure time than those coal miners did? Well, yes and no but, lack of leisure time was mostly due to the terrible working conditions and insulting wages imposed on miners by the mine owners, a social reform problem, rather than some improvement in technology.

  6. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    "In other words, what is progress for?"

    I defend progress because "progress is entertainment." It generates novelty and that is reason enough for me to justify its existance.

    "The exponential increase in startup capital needed to sustain Moore's Law threatens to stop computing progress just as surely as a conscious Luddite campaign, especially if the American economy enters "your grandfather's recession," as Paul Krugman phrased it recently — in other words, a Depression, with a capital-D, based on a massive overinvestment in IT and telecommunications."

    I don't think I was exactly referring to that. You can sidestep that problem with novel technology–instead of building chips with photolith, we grow them with nano or whatever.

    No, what I am talking about seems more fundamental to me.

    I was talking about the reluctance of consumers to spend money on something if they get used to the idea that it will be obsolete in the next few days or weeks. They may hang onto their money, figuring that technical advances will level out at some point. If they don't spend their money, there is less capital to spend on inventing new products.

    See? The feedback loop that Edison banked on may break down when the obsolesance cycle shrinks months or weeks or days.

    This thread is just me stating a vague theory I have. It's very hard for me to see how our current world will move into a new world where whole technologies go obsolete in the space of hours or minutes in some open-ended exponential curve. Sure, automated design systems may generate and test engineering for whole techologies in the space of minutes but how on earth to do we get all this stuff out onto the market if we are only going to replace it in next few days or hours? It smacks of paradox.

  7. wurp Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    Hmm, I think that you're right in all the particulars of costs, but I still think that you're wrong about the social results of those costs.

    There have been many times and places when groups of people lived in environments in which basically all of their needs were fulfilled by their environment, with little work involved. I'm no anthropological expert, but what I've seen indicates to me that you end up with several kinds of people in those situations: those who laze about, living on what's freely (or very cheaply) available; those who do some make-work to make their lives a little better (catching & roasting pig rather than living on fruit); those who lead; and those who follow. Of course, most everyone falls into all of those categories to one degree or another.

    As far as I know, what you don't see is people spending half of their waking time working for someone else on narrowly scoped tasks. If you're in an environment in which your basic needs are satisfied at virtually no effort, you only do things that you enjoy, to one degree or another.

    I also agree that land and expertise will remain highly desirable, but when the only things that remain scarce are recognition, land, novelty items (hand-made) and human labor, it seems to me that the notion of the kind of corporate driven society we have now will have to go away.

    Open source software is exactly what I was talking about as the model for mature MNT. Right now, you can get any of the basic apps and many specialty apps you want for free. Someone spent time building them, certainly, but it was their choice and a very small amount of time when amortized over the whole community that's using them.

    I don't think this question will be resolved until we get there. Let's talk again in 30 or 40 years.

  8. Corwin Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    I think that when it comes to issues of scarcity we have to remember that with MNT we're talking about the most fundamental social and economic change in human history. Even the industrial and informational revolutions weren't as mind boggling. We're talking about a social, political, and economic revolution that reaches further than any other we've ever faced.

    Previous revolutions have led to substantial change. The Industrial Revolution changed society forever, partially by consolidating some jobs, diversifying others, and completely eliminating still more. But the changes were largely superficial. People still worked, not because 'it's the natrual thing to do,' but because they had to. The engineering technology we developed at that time made major changes, and eliminated particular KINDS of work, but people still had to earn a living. Ditch diggers either learned to operate a backhoe, or found other careers. Likewise, the Informational Revolution, (I hate that term… it stinks of the whole 'cybertrendy' bit that today's psudeointellectuals like to affect, but what the hell…) has also made some jobs obsolete, created new ones, and transferred others. It's also made some changes in how we interact with each other… (boards like this are a good example.)

    However, neither of them addresses the fact that I drag my ass out of bed in the morning and spend my day at a job, not because I want to… but because I'm fond of eating and having a roof over my head. When it comes down to it, for all their changes, neither of them is ABLE to address this basic fact.

    MNT has the potential to address this problem. (And let's face it. It IS a problem. People may argue that it's just life, but I personally resent being forced to waste my life working for someone else instead of doing something more productive.) With developed nanotech and AI, we could effectively automate almost all of our economy. Synthetic labor would become much easier than it is now. (We use automation now, but since we have to assemble robots on the macro scale, it's expensive and time consuming.) When it comes down to it, most 'jobs' we have now could be done by a properly programmed AI. Very few jobs use human sentience to its full potential. Higher level jobs, that require full human level cognitive ability can be filled by people who WANT to do them, or would become irrelevant. (Such as corporate CEO's, etc. Explanation to follow below. ;) )

    MNT will never completely eliminate economics. Some things are just plain scarce, and even nanotech can't make them abundant. However, most of these things aren't needed by most people. (Come on. How many of us really need irridium? Plutonium? Tritium?) It provides the opportunity for us to free up land that currently isn't useable for living space… (such as farmland, which with the ability to assemble food becomes redundant) and also allows us to build just about anything we want from base materials. I know, I know. It isn't a panacea of creation of all things, and we still can't make something from nothing. But how many people really NEED to? What we need is food, water, shelter, living space, clothing, social interaction and entertainment… in modern society needs like energy and telecommunications enter into the mix.

    All of these can be produced from scratch with a molecular assembler. With AI and nanotech combined, maintaining systems (such as telecom) can be automated with labor that has no real needs, physical or emotional, and doesn't have to be paid.

    At that point, most people no longer need money to survive and be happy.

    How many of you honestly think that society at large is going to put up with a system of 'money' and 'exchange' when it becomes possible to live without it? It'll be rough at first. Some people who write assembler programs to create things will of course expect royalties… they'll have to adjust to the new economy. Expecting payment when money has become more or less irrelevant is a bit irrational, no? Aside from this, we need to consider the fact, (undeniable) that most people in such a situation are likely to tell such an individual to 'get bent.' Don't believe me? That's your choice… *cough cough NAPSTER cough cough KAZAA cough cough FREENET cough cough*

    This will be a long change… and in some ways it'll be painful. But it'll be worth it in the long run.

  9. bhoover Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    The open source model sounds good to me. That is, ideas in this thread include:

    1. MNT will largely eliminate scarcity

    2. Tech advancement will be so fast it'll disrupt markets as we know them

    3. The idea of hobiest's contributions (though this one was in context of pre-singularity, the idea is plausible either way)

    And to these I add

    4. 2, and 3 could be helped by abstraction – instead of hard wired sollutions, generalized/categorized MNT kits or some such.

    Mm. But you'd still need an MNT manufacturing plant. Or your generalized kit makes such, in which case you'd just need land.

    Or, we see things like planned obsolescence, and market cornering, so to speak, of MNT – certainly not difficult to envision given present day economic centralization. And it is not difficult to imagine that MNT will begin under such conditions at any rate. So the question would be whether or how to eventually transfer it to "the people." What motive would there be not to? Just nasty people who like to control other people? That's what I'm afraid of.

  10. bugstuff Says:

    Delay in the Law of Accelerating Returns.

    Mr_Farlops writes:

    >I've always been a little skeptical of concepts >like the singularity and such ideas because they >seem to ignore the economic feedback loop needed >to fund product development. Even if science >contracts the research and development time >needed to engineer new products to the space of >month, weeks or even hours, how on earth can >consumers be expected to keep up with the >dizzying rate of change?

    >If consumers are unwilling to spend money on >some new consumer device becuase they know that >a better device will come along in the space of >a few months or weeks, why will companies spend >the resources on research and development in the >first place if they can't be certain of demand?

    WONDERFUL LIFE FOUNDATION REPLY:

    One can bet nanotechnology and rapid scientific progress has been the focus of discussion of many closed door off the record corporate executive board room meetings. A company will need special incentive to invest millions of dollars in computer information system technology that will become quickly outdated and obsolete.

    Click Here to Read About Special Incentive Offered U.S. Corporations and Vital Role played by Wonderful Life Foundation in stimulating New Legislation.

    Mr. Farlops, I believe you are correct in your assertion that concepts like the singularity ìseem to ignore the economic feedback loop needed to fund product development.î

    The current turbulence and downturn in the economy may be a consequence of the broken ìeconomic feedback loopî you reference in your Nanodot.org Message Board Online Forum discourse entitled, ìSocial Inertia.î

    Are recent layoffs in the labor market a consequence of working class Americans becoming the whipping horse for events that transpire in terms of rapid scientific progress? Working class Americans have no control over events that transpire in terms of scientific progress.

    Working class Americans are known to be small investors. In a feature article posted on Wonderful Life Foundation web site, I point out that small investors have always bolstered the stock market in difficult times.

    Mr. Farlops, I believe problems associated with ìthe economic feedback loopî will significantly slow the rate of accelerating returns. I believe the slow rate of accelerating returns will diffuse and delay movement toward the singularity.

    I think the delay of the singularity may be for the best. I do not think people are ready for the singularity. I believe people will have to learn how to value and respect other people before we are prepared for the singularity.

    The Wonderful Life Foundation Nanodot.org post entitled Quantification Method provides a very relevent discussion as to why society is not yet prepared for the Singularity.

    Click here to visit the Wonderful Life Foundation Nanodot post entitled Quantification Method. Please refer to the subsections entitled:

    SPIRALING INCREASE OF COST OF LIVING AS CONSEQUENCE OF STRENGHENING ACADEMIC PROGRAMS LEADING TO ECONOMIC COMPETITION BETWEEN WHITE COLLAR PROFESSIONALS AND SKILLED TRADESMEN.

    and,

    DEEPLY EMBEDDED INGRAINED HOARDING BEHAVIOR AND ASSOCIATED EMOTIONS OF CONTEMPT AND DISDAIN AS A CONSEQUENCE OF SCAVAGING AND PICKING OVER LIMITED PRECIOUS NATURAL RESOURCES OVER EONS AND EONS OF TIME.

    Mr. Farlops, I do believe there are positive constructive solutions to problems with ìthe economic feedback loopî.

    Work toward positive constructive solutions:

    Click Here to read, Wonderful Life Foundation Advocacy Instrumental in Producing Action by Lawmakers:Wonderful Life Foundation Supportive of Corporate America!

    Click Here to read Wonderful Life Foundation: An Idea for the Future!

    Click Here to Read Wonderful Life Foundation Economic Stimulus Package.

  11. bugstuff Says:

    An Useful Bargaining Tool for Poor Underprivileged

    WURP WROTE:

    >If food, transportation, living space, and >entertainment can all be produced without human >interaction (and I believe they can), then >people will refuse to sell their lives to >corporate interests and are left to work on >whatever takes their fancy, rather than whatever >market forces drive them to.

    >For some people, this will mean gardening, >social activities, or other idle hobbies that >don't contribute to the big picture. For lots of >people, though, new technology will be of >interest, or new social structures, or radical >new art, and I believe these heavy hobbies will >lead to something resembling the singularity.

    My Reply:

    An extrapolation is based upon historical development of scientific discovery. If we extrapolate future direction of science may include brain sensors that can potentially enhance human performance than a future scenario of brain sensors may have staggering implications for welfare reform and minimum wage laws.

    Welfare reform is not a concern for people in love with their jobs. Most people in the labor market struggle to survive on subsistence pay. Most people in the labor market go to work everyday because they are forced by economic conditions.

    People who love their jobs may include professional athletes, Hollywood Actors, Medical Professionals, lawyers, Movie Producers, engineers and other scientist, politicians, business executives etc.

    The truth of the matter is that an unnoticed broom handlers time is worth just as much as a professional person paid $300,000 dollars per hour for a performance of some type.

    In most cases an unnoticed broom handler possesses equal talent and ability to earn more, but is prevented by competition to achieve his or her true goals. Also, an extreme amount of money is often invested by wealthy people in nurturing talent and ability. Most people do not have access to the money to nurture talent and ability.

    If society decides to outlaw scientific progress leading to development and implementation of brain sensors than many people living on subsistence pay will be justified in asking why? The mere possibility of enhancing human performance with brain sensors may be a useful bargaining tool for the poor underprivileged class.

  12. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:Delay in the Law of Accelerating Returns.

    Well, there is some interesting and extensive material on your site but, what I am getting at isn't as elaborate as all that.

    All I am saying is that it's hard for me to imagine the economy working at the furious rate of activity imagined in some of the technological exponentiation senarios that some futurists have proposed.

    How on Earth can anyone be expected to buy new toys at that rate? Will people be paid to be consumers?

    I think these are deceptively simple questions that haven't been adequately answered by any deep thinkers so far.

    I do believe that humans will transform themselves into new kinds of organisms. I do believe that superhuman intelligence is possible but, I don't like the concept of the singularity because I think it's mathematically incorrect.

    Technological advance can't just increase asymptotically towards infinity; that's just ludicrous.

  13. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    "There have been many times and places when groups of people lived in environments in which basically all of their needs were fulfilled by their environment, with little work involved….As far as I know, what you don't see is people spending half of their waking time working for someone else on narrowly scoped tasks."

    Yes, there is no specialization in hunting and gathering societies. Specialization has been with us since the invention of agriculture.

    At that point the amount of things a person needed to know to survive greatly increased. Society became more complex. In hunting and gathering times, each person to varying degrees of skill and motivation knew everything needed to survive in the wild. Once agriculture came along this was no longer possible. Some people had to be masons, some people had to be scribes, some people had to be generals or leaders, some people had to be farmers.

    I don't think nano will directly remove the need for specialization. Specialization might be removed or at least greatly modified by intelligence amplification or artificial intelligence. But I don't see how the abundance or efficiency promised by nano will immediately remove the need for specialization.

  14. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Will open source become the dominant model?

    I think the jury is still out on whether the open source economy will become the model for the economy at large.

    Apache is currently a great success, especially for those paid to maintain such systems and for the hardware vendors who get paid to build systems that support such things as BSD and Linux. With any luck, since we can't always count of the generousity of smart people to drive various open source projects forward, some of this money gets filtered back to support open source projects to keep them going. But that's the key thing, somebody, somewhere gets paid or makes a profit. Open source can't survive on good feelings and genius alone, crass things like money have to intrude somewhere.

    Open source isn't exactly like art. An artist creates a thing to stand for a long time and is finished with it. Usually galleries don't call the artist back in to repair, extend or improve their current installations of art. If they did, at some point the artist might, rightfully, demand to be paid for sacrificing her time.

    Of course many inventors build things to simply to improve the world, profit is the furthest thing from their minds but at some point the business and organization people have to step and say, "How can we make some money off this?"

    I support open source. I have donated money to two or three projects (PHP for one.) to keep them going and to support folks smarter than me to extend and improve them. But I strongly doubt that an economy as complex as ours can move forward on donations for cleverness alone.

    Open source is probably here to stay but I really doubt that it will become the dominant model for our post-nano economy.

  15. bhoover Says:

    Re:Will open source become the dominant model?

    I support open source. I have donated money to two or three projects (PHP for one.) to keep them going and to support folks smarter than me to extend and improve them. But I strongly doubt that an economy as complex as ours can move forward on donations for cleverness alone.

    I was speaking to the speedy obsolescence problem. The premise was markets would be changed because of improved products on a weekly or monthly basis. If one accepts this premise, then products of higher levels of abstraction coming to market make sense, because such would arguably require more ingenuity, be more difficult to make. The more highly abstracted products, the consumer would then use to make their own stuff. I'm basically using the same ideas of my own programming/design approaches which in terms of abstraction, reusability or lack thereof, and implementation, I've pretty much got down to the extent that these can be turned up/down, tuned, like knobs on a console. And so I'm applying these ideas to this perpetual state of product improvement premise. Leaving aside the details of course, I imagine these programming/design techniques, together in an environment described in the four or so points I outlined – which I BTW, with a couple of my additions/conclusions, took from this thread before I posted.

    Money, payment is an issue as a means to sustenance, the solution to a problem. But if you've got, as was mentioned earlier, 90% of the problem solved, what's the point, as witnessed in our computer industry. At that point, all you have to do is wait around until someone comes up with the next novel, neat-o, groovy MNT abstraction, and add it to your collection. Like abstract programming objects (ADTs – abstract data types).

    The problem I see is that MNT will take big money to achieve, and thus the risk that it will be, once realized, highjacked in a cartel like sense, when the concrete reality of the situation, may make this utterly unnecessary but for the service of corrupt intent or interest. This is the tragedy "we" must vigilantly work to avoid.

  16. bhoover Says:

    Re:Delay in the Law of Accelerating Returns.

    Technological advance can't just increase asymptotically towards infinity; that's just ludicrous.

    Now I'm getting more tuned in to your point. I may have recognizably touched on this in an above reply. Nevertheless..

    Again, I think the level of abstraction is an important factor. Think: 'Give a person food, and they're fed for a day. Teach a person to hunt, and they are fed for a life time.' A company with MNT – self replication, various levels of application generality – can produce a countless stream of perpetually improving products, or they can batten down the faucet to drip products, innovation over longer intervals, and either way, more or less hold the world captive with artificially/unecessarily controled markets. Are there alternatives?

    One alternative is an abstraction driven model. This would implie, albeit, some sort of user interface through which your average Joe, would-be nanotech could program assembly of things. How general, or concrete, reusable, ease of use, a product would still be a function of competition, supply and demand like today, and there would be only a tiny segment – sort of 'keepers of the MNT' with a low level technical understanding, but largely, MNT would be in the hands of the people.

    As was mentioned earlier, or rather alluded, the goal of progress is to solve problems. Progress as a means to entertainment, is no different – the demand for innovation may never cease, but this is obviously not the same thing as progress as an end unto itself. The point being, an artifcially controlled market (possible unmentioned alternatives aside), resulting in a perpetual state of "progress" is inherently, in a scientific sense, corrupt.

    After having said all that, perhaps now to more to your point (as I rant).

    The speed of technological advance, depends on whether you're talking about specific MNT advancement, or the products made possible by an underlying MNT advancement. The latter is more what I took you to mean. The idea being that single MNT advances will lead to many, many products, or classes of products. But since MNT will only come through big business, I agree, at least at first, production will be centralized, and present economic models will likely apply. But at some point,it will be corrupt not to give the technology to the people – perhaps that point is when innovation cannot otherwise advance, or when, on a per production segment basis, segments are, through abstraction for instance, released into public domain, literally, or so to speak.

  17. bugstuff Says:

    Increasing Uncertainty leading to Fudging Numbers.

    Mr_Farlops wrote:

    >How on Earth can anyone be expected to buy new >toys at that rate? Will people be paid to be >consumers?

    >I think these are deceptively simple questions >that haven't been adequately answered by any >deep thinkers so far.

    Wonderful Life Foundation Reply:

    TITLE:

    INCREASING UNCERTAINTY AMONG EXPERTS
    CONTRIBUTING TO FUDGING NUMBERS IN CORPORATE
    SCANDALS

    The future contains uncertainty. The degree of uncertainty may be increasing as a consequence of rapid scientific advancement. One sure thing about the future is uncertainty.

    I do not believe anyone has the answers. Mr Farlops, because no one has the answers there are many ìsimple questions that have not been adequately answered by any deep thinkers so farî.

    Uncertainty about the future may be the fertile soil from which corporate corruption as a result of fraudulent accounting practices sprouted.

    As stated in my Nandot.org post entitled ìDelay in the Law of Accelerating Returnsî: One can bet nanotechnology and rapid scientific progress has been the focus of discussion of many closed door off the record corporate executive board room meetings.

    A model explaining the behavior of corporate executives may be devised based upon expectation and perception of socioeconomic change by captains of industry.

    Captains of industry, who more than likely expected a major shift in manufacturing methods, may have reasoned that they as progenitor of a corporation have an inherent right to capitalize from the corporate entity they as an entrepreneur built.

    Captains of industry who more than likely are uncertain as to how a major shift in manufacturing methods may affect corporate profits may have gradually allowed fudging the numbers leading to fraudulent accounting practice.

    Traditionally, we as a society tend to look for answers to problems from leaders in government, business, academics, religion, and medicine. Historically, experts possessed knowledge to provide answers about simple bulk processes. However, the ìexpertsî may be more confounded, perplexed, and confused about issues pertaining to rapid scientific progress.

    In the future, will we be able to depend upon the "experts" as in the past?

    It is claimed that Science is the great equalizer. I am fascinated with the sociological perspective of nanotechnology because no one has the answers.

  18. Corwin Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    Well by increasing life expectancy to several centuries, it might be possible for people to specialize over and over again.

    I mean… what's 40 years in school for 50 PhD's…. if my life expectancy is 5000?

  19. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    "I mean[,] what's 40 years in school for 50 PhD's[,] if my life expectancy is 5000?"

    Assuming you can remember all that. Even perpetually young brains will occasionally forget things. That's why I mentioned intelligence amplification becuase, longevity and rejunvenation aren't enough by themselves.

  20. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:Delay in the Law of Accelerating Returns.

    "A company with MNT – self replication, various levels of application generality – can produce a countless stream of perpetually improving products, or they can batten down the faucet to drip products, innovation over longer intervals, and either way, more or less hold the world captive with artificially/unecessarily controled markets."

    Ah! Finally this makes sense to me! Your statement above allowed me to see a way around the bottleneck I proposed.

    Actually companies will have an incentive to build self-improving products because they can pay the cost of improvement by setting up leasing agreements with their customers.

    They can say, "Lease with us and we will ensure that your products are always the latest in technology. They are designed to download the latest patches and upgrades from our servers or will automatically signal upgrading robots from our local factories when their maintainence systems are unable to build the new tools locally."

    In a mature nano world a consumer will pay a leasing fee and thus wake up every morning to find a strange new car, with brand new toys, in their garage. The money keeps flowing back to the company to fund new R&D and the consumer doesn't have to worry about keeping ahead of obsolesence. The process becomes automatic and that bottleneck is removed.

    Thanks! That actually cleared a lot of things up for me! Of course, I may think up another bottleneck but so far this removes some of my earlier skepticism.

    Moving on to your other points, I don't think MNT advances will only come through big companies alone. There is all the research being done by various governments, universities, private, non-profit organizations and smaller businesses. Provided we can reform intellectual property law now, we may be able to avoid giving too much power to the multinational corporations that develop key areas of nano.

  21. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Will Leasing Agreements Drive Tech Exponentiation?

    bhoover, in explaining other things, made something plain to me, the way to remove the consumer/R&D bottleneck I was thinking of earlier is to use consumer leasing agreements to fund further R&D. I think this will become the norm as technology obsolesence cycles shrink from decades to years to perhaps months.

    Nanotech products can be designed to upgrade themselves, or if necessary, be shipped to local factories to be retooled as technology advances. This could be a nightly processes. You would sign a lease with some company and in return for a monthly fee, they would upgrade your car, house, computers, etc. etc. every night. The monthly fees would help the companies pay the costs of research and development.

  22. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:Will open source become the dominant model?

    Yes, I think you've helped me figure this out. Leasing agreements will remove the bottleneck I was thinking of. If you wish to comment, see this.

  23. bhoover Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    I don't know if I agree that we'll all be blessed with endless free time. People have said this before and nothing has come of it. In fact I think the proportion of leisure time hasn't changed in nearly 500 years.

    The reasons, "nothing has come of it," are probably more fundamental in terms of the kind of changes, impact MNT has the potential to effect. We need to look at what are these fundamental reasons that technology has not given these kinds of expected results. I submit, without going at all into detail, the issues revolve around centralization, and top down as opposed to bottom up organizational concepts. This is the fundamental reason I think ideations of a "New World Order" are, though in some sense, in line with a logical progression for civilation, in a broader sense misguided, and a road block to be avoided, as being viewed as anything other than a means to, at best, ideations of cooperation, and common cause, harmony – but certainly not centralization, and consolidation. MNT truly has this potential, like nothing before it.

  24. RobertBradbury Says:

    Re:200 Calculations Per Second?!?

    Lord, this thread needs so much cleanup, I almost don't know where to start.

    First, I really doubt Ray claimed the "human brain" is a 200 flop machine. It seems likely that this is a misstatement or a misquote. Perhaps he said (or meant to say) that individual neurons are 200 flop computers. Given 40 billion neurons thats close to a teraflop machine. The generally accepted equivalence is that the human brain is somewhere between a teraflop and a petaflop.

    Both Kurzweil (and before him Moravec) generally do the calculation based on thought "equivalence". I.e. we can design a program that consumes X amount of flops that can accomplish what the human brain does on the same task. Moravec used visual recognition, Kurzweil, in the talks I've seen, has generally used speech recognition. So it doesn't really matter how many flops a bunch of neurons can do — we know that we can perform the equivalent function using N flops. This approach does tend to produce underestimates because the human brain has specialized circuits for these tasks (so the whole brain isn't working on the problem). At the same time visual and speech recognition are generally done on general purpose hardware (not optimized for the task) and so it seems likely that these omissions may offset each other.

    The estimate of an exaflops is 3 orders of magnitude more than any other estimate I've seen. Even if it were accurate, it is not a valid proof that that much computational capacity is required to support human level intelligence and consciousness. Nanobot enabled brains will be significantly more efficient than our current wetware is.

  25. RobertBradbury Says:

    Re: Social Inertia

    To have an "informed" discussion about nanotechnology economics it seems unwise to rely upon the speculations of Kurzweil or Vinge. These individuals are not experts in either nanotechnology or economics.

    If one goes back to Nanosystems, Eric was very clear about saying that nanotechnology would not make everything free. For example, Section 14.7, pg 441: "Assuming present materials prices, the anticipated product costs would be ~$0.10 to $0.50 $/kg". Anyone making the claim that costs fall to zero hasn't read the relevant literature!

    But if one does a careful analysis (as I have) of the energy requirements of a human being and the technology that may be available to support those energy requirements one finds that the ownership of a few square meters of land is sufficient to meet those requirements. Until the time (if it ever occurs) that the human population energy requirements exceed the solar energy harvesting capacity of the surface of the Earth (either land based or land and ocean based depending on how much engineering you are willing to do) nanotechnology will enable us (even without colonizing space) to transition out of the survivalist framework that most humans have been immersed in for thousands of years.

    That means there will be a big change in how humans live their lives. We may squander the opportunity on Bacchanalian pursuits or we may capitalize on the opportunity for the benefit of everyone. Most likely our path will fall someplace between those extremes. Because survival is relatively "free", many more people will have the opportunity to pursue self-development or creative endeavours — including self-education, entertainment of others or public domain nanodesigns. So it seems likely that quality of life for the average individual is likely to significantly increase.

  26. bhoover Says:

    Re:Delay in the Law of Accelerating Returns.

    Ah! Finally this makes sense to me! Your statement above allowed me to see a way around the bottleneck I proposed.

    I'm gratified, and flattered I could be of assistence :) .

    Actually companies will have an incentive to build self-improving products because they can pay the cost of improvement by setting up leasing agreements with their customers.

    Hadn't really thought of self-improving products per se, but.. that's one approach I suppose. Though I don't really like the leasing idea. I'd rather, for instance, buy an abstract tool or set of tools. In such a scenario, albeit, there would be a proportionate relationship between tool abstraction level, and user knowledge – the more abstract the tool, the more knowledge required. Just like with computer software – you can make a lot of different programs with a 3 GL such as C++, fewer program types with a 4 GL like DBase or Paradox, and so on down to specific implementation like Word, or Excel.

  27. bugstuff Says:

    Nanotechnology as Mitigating Factor in Scandal

    Visitors to Nanodot.org,

    The following Nanodot.org post includes redundancy and repetition of content. The original thesis is expanded to include a fresh revitalizing new perspective:

    Corporate executives may have felt justified in bending the rules of accounting due to the fact the old laws of economics are being bent out of shape by the quick pace of science and technology.

    Due to the fact rapid socioeconomic change may have instigated to some degree corporate corruption, the Justice System should consider leniency for corporate executives.

    I included redundent content because I believe the thematic expansion is important to fully understand how rapid scientific progress may be impacting society.

    The new post below is not entirely off topic. If we extrapolate that society will one day in the future be able to implant sensors in the human brain then this will replace an entire sector of the present telecommunications industry.

    The thematic expansion posted below provides insight into how people behave when an entire industry is threatened by new technology.

    Thank You for your patience.

    Sincerely,
    Mark

    ________________________________________

    HAS ADVANCEMENT IN NANOTECHNOLOGY CONTRIBUTED TO CORPORATE SCANDALS?

    INCREASING UNCERTAINTY AMONG EXPERTS CONTRIBUTING TO FUDGING NUMBERS IN CORPORATE SCANDALS.

    WONDERFUL LIFE FOUNDATION RECOMMENDS LENIENCY FOR CORPORATE EXECUTIVES WHO DEMONSTRATE SINCERE SIGNS OF REMORSE AND REPENTENCE.

    DIVISION INTO CLASS SOCIETY IS NOT CONDUCIVE TO ECONOMIC GROWTH OR CONTINUED SCIENTIFIC PROGRESS.

    TITLES OF RELEVENT WONDERFUL LIFE FOUNDATION NANODOT.ORG MESSAGE BOARD ONLINE FORUM POST:

    Increasing Uncertainty leading to Fudging Numbers.
    Delay in the Law of Accelerating Returns.

    URL LINK TO ABOVE TITLES POSTED ON NANODOT.ORG ONLINE MESSAGE BOARD ONLINE FORUM:

    Click Here to Review Wonderful Life Foundation Nanodot.org Message Board Online Forum Post.

    THESIS:

    The future contains uncertainty. The degree of uncertainty may be increasing as a consequence of rapid scientific advancement. One sure thing about the future is uncertainty. I do not believe anyone has the answers.

    Uncertainty about the future may be the fertile soil from which corporate corruption as a result of fraudulent accounting practices sprouted.

    As stated in my Nandot.org post entitled ìDelay in the Law of Accelerating Returnsî: One can bet nanotechnology and rapid scientific progress has been the focus of discussion of many closed door off the record corporate executive board room meetings.

    A model explaining the behavior of corporate executives may be devised based upon expectation and perception of socioeconomic change by captains of industry.

    Captains of industry, who more than likely expected a major shift in manufacturing methods, may have reasoned that they, as progenitor of a corporation have an inherent right to capitalize from the corporate entity they as an entrepreneur built.

    Captains of industry who more than likely are uncertain as to how a major shift in manufacturing methods may affect future corporate profits may have gradually allowed fudging the numbers leading to fraudulent accounting practice.

    Traditionally, we as a society tend to look for answers to problems from leaders in government, business, academics, religion, and medicine. Historically, experts possessed knowledge to provide answers about simple bulk processes. However, the ìexpertsîmay be more confounded, perplexed, and confused about issues pertaining to rapid scientific progress.

    In the future, will we be able to depend upon the "experts" as in the past?

    It is claimed that Science is the great equalizer. I am fascinated with the sociological perspective of nanotechnology because no one has the answers.

    Due to the fact that nearing the "end of science" generates complex socieconomic problems for which ALL of society is very much unprepared, Wonderful Life Foundation recommends leniency for Corporate Executives who demonstrate sincere signs of remorse and repentance. The trick is how to determine if outward signs of remorse truly reflect sincere genuine repentance for wrongful actions.

    The white-collar crimes committed by corporate executives have not caused irreversible damage to the life of individuals. Fortunes can be restored.

    The Justice System should reserve the harshest punishments for crimes such as child abuse. Crimes such as child abuse cause irreversible damage to the mental health, emotional, and spiritual lives of people. The Justice system should concentrate most of its resources to address grave social ills, such as child abuse.

    It takes a lot of knowledge, skill, and practical know-how to successfully engage in entrepreneurship and build a company from scratch in an extremely competitive market. During this historical period of ìliving in the middle of two great industrial epochsî the knowledge, skill, and practical know-how possessed by corporate executives is a highly critical, vital, and important knowledge base necessary to find solutions to social problems associated with rapid scientific progress.

    Corporate executives who are sincerely remorseful for their actions can best serve society by applying their special know-how and entrepreneurship ability to helping solve social problems associated with rapid introduction of new emerging technology.

    The imprisonment of corporate executives sincerely remorseful for their actions may be a waste of talent.

    Also, division into a class society is not conducive to economic growth nor continued scientific progress. Societies that develop rigid class systems tend to stagnate.

    We are one people with the one goal to serve others and increase the global standard of living for all people regardless of race, creed, gender, or ethnic origin. In order to accomplish this lofty goal, we as citizens of the United States, must first solve serious domestic problems.

    The trappings of material wealth are necessary to successfully establish and maintain a business.

    A potential client is not going to be interested in the business plans of an entrepreneur if he or she shows up at a restaurant driving a broken down car with chipped paint, lopsided deflated wheels, sputtering, backfiring, and fuming exhaust.

    A potential client is interested in creating wealth for his or her company. The spectacle of a broken down automobile is not compatible or congruent with the goal of generating wealth.

    A corporate executive can be gradually lured, ensnared, and seduced by excessive wealth. The looming possibility of a major shift in manufacturing methods as a consequence of rapid scientific progress may have fueled an emotional reaction of a corporate executive that if my company is going to flounder due to inability to compete with rapid introduction of new products on the market than I will take steps to protect my financial future and capitalize from work invested to build the company.

    In the future, economics may become an entire new ball game. In the future, the old laws of economics may not apply.

    Conventional manufacturing methods allow only marginal room for improvement. Atomically precise manufacturing methods (http://www.foresight.org ) provide vast room for improvement of consumer products and services. How else can we produce better products at less cost without abuse of our work force?

    The economic climate characterized by a rapid pace of socioeconomic change may be a mitigating factor explaining corporate corruption. Corporate executives may have felt justified in bending the rules of accounting due to the fact the old laws of economics are being bent out of shape by the quick pace of science and technology.

    Due to the fact rapid socioeconomic change may have instigated to some degree corporate corruption, the Justice System should consider leniency for corporate executives.

    Wonderful Life Foundation believes the confiscation of homes of CEOís caught up in corporate scandals may be a punishment that is too harsh and unjust given the mitigating factor of rapid socioeconomic change. Corporate executives have worked for what they got.

    An excerpt from a Wonderful Life Foundation Nanodot.org message Board Online Forum post entitled, ìWonderful Life Foundation: Economic Stimulus Packageî is very pertinent to this discussion:

    We, as a collective society must continue to look far over the vast span of the horizon and realize that each of us is working for a higher purpose other than our own personal individual business goals and separate organizational business motives.

    As Albert Einstein eloquently stated, sometimes it is difficult to see the forest because of many trees.

    Sincerely,
    Mark
    Founder, Webmaster, Executive Director
    Wonderful Life Foundation

    Click Here to visit Wonderful Life Foundation free Cheap Web Tricks.net web site!

    Click Here to visit Wonderful Life Foundation free Tripod.com web site

    Click Here to Review a List of contributions posted on Nanodot.org Online Public Forum by Wonderful Life Foundation

  28. Corwin Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    I don't know that I agree with this. People can learn to do some pretty impressive things. We just assume that people's brains have a maximum capacity that we'll hit very early, but I don't see it.

    People in the modern age are amazed that I can use 5 computers at once. People in the Dark Ages literally believed that reading without reading out loud was impossible. We as a species constantly sell ourselves short when it comes to our capacity.

  29. bugstuff Says:

    Prerequisites for the Singularity.

    RobertBradbury wrote:

    >nanotechnology will enable us (even without
    >colonizing space) to transition out of the survivalist framework
    >that most humans have been immersed in for thousands of years.

    Related Wonderful Life Foundation Excerpt:

    The Wonderful Life Foundation Nandot.org post entitled Quantification Method provides a discourse pertaining to "the survivalist framework that most humans have been immersed in for thousands of years" as you, Mr. Bradbury aptly stated.

    In the discourse Quantification Method, "the survivalist framework" is examined in terms of the neopsychoanalytical concept of Collective Consciousness as espoused by famed Pschologist Carl Jung.

    Click Here to review the subsection of Quantification Method entitled DEEPLY EMBEDDED INGRAINED HOARDING BEHAVIOR AND ASSOCIATED EMOTIONS OF CONTEMPT AND DISDAIN AS A CONSEQUENCE OF SCAVAGING AND PICKING OVER LIMITED PRECIOUS NATURAL RESOURCES OVER EONS AND EONS OF TIME.

    RobertBradbury wrote:

    >That means there will be a big change in how
    >humans live their lives. We may squander
    >the opportunity on Bacchanalian pursuits or we may capitalize on the opportunity for the
    >benefit of everyone. Most likely our path will fall someplace between those extremes.
    >Because survival is relatively "free", many more people will have the opportunity to pursue self-development or creative endeavours — including self-education, entertainment of
    >others or public domain nanodesigns. So it seems likely that quality of life for the average
    >individual is likely to significantly increase.

    Wonderful Life Foundation Thesis:

    If deeply embedded ingrained hoarding behavior is unlearned and erased from the psychological make up of modern man by dramatically increasing material abundance, than this may potentially culminate in a spiritual reformation.

    RobertBradbury wrote:

    nanotechnology will enable us (even without
    >colonizing space) to transition out of the
    >survivalist framework.

    Wonderful Life Foundation Thesis:

    Wonderful Life Foundation asserts that space colonization and significant elevation of the global standard of living regardless of race, creed, gender, or ethnic origin will eventually become human milestones. The human milestones of space colonization and elevation of the global standard of living should be prerequisites to the singularity.

    Space colonization and significant elevation of the global standard of living will reflect a higher degree of cooperation and mutual respect of other people. A high degree of cooperation and mutual respect of other people is necessary to use new technology in a responsible manner.

    Also, the colonization of space may be critical for the preservation of peace in the event the singularity becomes possible. Humans possessing various ideologies may decide to live in different quadrants of the universe.

    Sincerely,
    Mark
    Founder, Webmaster, Executive Director
    Wonderful Life Foundation

  30. bugstuff Says:

    Leasing Idea is Intriguing Concept.

    The leasing idea is an intriguing concept. One point I do not fully understand about the Leasing concept is what type of work will roughly 80 to 90 percent of the population perform to be able to pay for upgrade services?

    Roughly 10 to 20 percent of the population will be performing work to provide daily upgrades of automobiles, appliances, and other tools necessary for living. I assume this 10 to 20 percent of the population will have jobs as material upgrade software specialist.

    If material upgrade specialists perform a service or work it seems logical that end consumers will have to perform some type of work to be able to pay for daily material upgrades. Since there will not be any products to produce by human means, how will end consumers pay for upgrade services?

  31. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:200 Calculations Per Second?!?

    "Perhaps he said (or meant to say) that individual neurons are 200 flop computers. Given 40 billion neurons thats close to a teraflop machine. The generally accepted equivalence is that the human brain is somewhere between a teraflop and a petaflop…. The estimate of an exaflops is 3 orders of magnitude more than any other estimate I've seen."

    Yes, if that's what he actually said or meant to say then I completely retract my complaint. I am willing to accept, barring any better estamates, that each individual neuron is a 200 flop machine. Going with that estimate, I am willing to accept that brain is a network of 40 billion or so 200 flop machines with, depending on how you measure network calculating strength, a collective power of a teraflop or a petaflop.

    I also admit that I was exaggerating when I said exaflop. I recall "exa-" as representing 10^18, or do I misrecall? Anyway I just wanted to be conservative and over-estamate, just in case. I figured I was safe because I knew that nano would allow us to easily build exaflop machines eventually.

    I should have made it a little clearer that I wasn't saying that strong AI wasn't possible. I think it is possible and may arrive before this century is out, perhaps within my lifetime. But when I saw that quote, or misquote, I guess I jumped the gun.

  32. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:Delay in the Law of Accelerating Returns.

    "Though I don't really like the leasing idea."

    I am curious. Why? It seems to me to be a viable economic method. As a company signs on more customers, they could give all their customers lower rental rates or keep the rate the same and spend more money on research and development.

    "I'd rather, for instance, buy an abstract tool or set of tools. In such a scenario, albeit, there would be a proportionate relationship between tool abstraction level, and user knowledge – the more abstract the tool, the more knowledge required. Just like with computer software – you can make a lot of different programs with a 3 GL such as C++, fewer program types with a 4 GL like DBase or Paradox, and so on down to specific implementation like Word, or Excel."

    So, assuming I understand things correctly here, you buy a set of tools that can make other tools. The more powerful and general purpose the tools are, the more they cost.

    But, in the process you propose, I don't see how that gets money back to spend on R&D. What I see happening with your idea is that, at best, the R&D cost gets rotated through each individual or company that uses the old tool to make a better tool, in hopes of some payoff from new customers who, hopefully, will continue the chain.

    This feedback seems very fragile to me because the process counts at least one customer or group of customers using the older tools to build newer tools, when they, the customers, have no certainty that anyone will buy their newer tools and thus pay off their labor in building those newer tools.

    Can you clear up any misundertanding I have here?

  33. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Re:Leasing Idea is Intriguing Concept.

    "The leasing idea is an intriguing concept. One point I do not fully understand about the Leasing concept is what type of work will roughly 80 to 90 percent of the population perform to be able to pay for upgrade services?"

    Exactly. I think that people will still have to labor, in some fashion, in exhange for money to buy new toys. The people who labor to build the new toys, altruists aside, will require some kind of recompense for their labor–if only recognition and all the perks that fame buys. Sadly, many folks are unwilling to subsidize the lifestyles of strangers, unless they get something out of it too. People will still have to work for money.

    The upgrade/lease idea won't eliminate the labor/payment exchange but, it will eliminate the customer as a bottleneck to R&D advances. If a customer doesn't like the toy upgrades a particular company is giving, they can terminate the contract, return the toys to be recycled and contract with a new company.

  34. bhoover Says:

    Re:200 Calculations Per Second?!?

    Lord, this thread needs so much cleanup, I almost don't know where to start.

    Having a bad day Robert (lol – sorry)?

    I trust you'll tell us when you've got everything cleared up (lol – again, just kidding)?

    At any rate, I'm glad there's someone around here who can do the numbers, 'cause I sure as hell can't.

    Sincerely,

    Bryan

  35. bhoover Says:

    Re:Delay in the Law of Accelerating Returns.

    I am curious. Why?

    I don't like the leasing idea because it sounds like it would keep a person in bondage. I'd rather just buy my little MNT kit(s) for making stuff – food, a house, furniture…

    But, in the process you propose, I don't see how that gets money back to spend on R&D.

    Mm.. I guess we should first recognize that going from present economics to that which MNT might afford will require some sort of boot strapping process.

    That said, elements to consider, are the various kinds of manufacturing – product segmentation you might say; the bare minimum a person needs to survive, (or a minimum set of tools that everyone gets to start with?); and varying degrees of abstract, and concrete MNT tools, production, which might be used to manipulate markets I suppose – with this one being the scariest, and deserving of attention, care, work, re-work, or thrown out and replaced altogether, with the main trick being not to get too clever with the economic abstraction.

    Other elements are R&D, and the manufacture of low level MNT tools with which to conduct such.

    If you consider a world where everyone's got everything they need to live comfortably, then yeah, it's gonna be difficult to get people to work. But then, there won't be any work to be done. So yeah, at some point people are gonna innovate out of shear boredom, or the quest for more knowledge – there'll always be scientists whether or not they are economically chained to their slide rules. Scientists don't need to be economically enslaved in order to produce.

    Perhaps our present economic system is so abstract, and elusive to most of us that we lose site of what an economic system is for. Worse than that, those who have not lost site of what it's for, or through circumstances, or whatever, use this elusiveness, to a significant degree, to econmically enslave most of the world – we don't work because we want to, but because we've no choice. But working because one has no choice is not the only reason to work, and I concede this will be a major difference between the present, and post MNT.

    It might be constructive to think in terms of the good old fashioned barter system as a model of how to get things done. Ironic, almost paradoxical how something as complex as MNT could so simplify our lives.

  36. bhoover Says:

    Re:Delay in the Law of Accelerating Returns.

    Just wanted to add something to my earlier response.

    The big brained among us come up with the most wonderful, elaborate, seemingly species advancing ideas, but most often these ideas seem to be couched, or have the feature of a pseudo perpetual motion machine, akin to cellular life. If it does not self perpetuate in some way, if there is not a cyclical feedback loop kind of thing happening, then it is not compatible with the cultural, socioeconomic zeitgeist, and therefore thought inconsequential, or worse, just plain boring – except as means to feed the machine, the cycle; a means all too often that translates to something akin to, or literally rape and pillage, slash and burn, and the recent prospect of perpetual war – a machine fed on human lives, to in turn, feed our economic machine.

    I'm reminded of a news report quoting a businessman near the beginning of the current economic fallout, saying that 'this is all just a part of the business cycle..' And thousands of small investors are instant paupers – just a part of the business cycle. Our economic system rewards this. It's the reason for things like the problem of vested interest in our government institutions that end up serving themselves rather than the people they represent, and/or supposedly work for. And in the midst of all this, the looming magnificence of MNT!

    Achieving MNT will represent the mastering of a self perpetuating tool – or something as close to self perpetuating as is possible. We will no longer need to simulate, or create systems that come with the costs of a cancerous growth designed into them, we will have mastered the natural processes we have here-to-fore all to imperfectly (or considering their voraciousness, perhaps all too perfectly) mimicked, and use them as tools. We can break out of "cyclical" thinking and get on with "linear" thinking, wherein our systems do not become ends unto themselves; systems wherein causes are too often confounded with effects.

    This idea does not go against nature's grain in the sense that cellular machines, life represent an existence proof for MNT, but rather makes the point: we will have the self perpetuating features of nature mastered to be used as tools for non-cyclical advancement, as opposed to enslaving ourselves with mere models of such. This is the impact of mastering fundamental features of life itself.

    This is a fundamental reason current economic models won't work, or more importantly, why such models won't be required, in the post MNT Milky Way.

    My fear though, whether or not I live to see it, is that we will not break from, as Robert put it, our "survivalist framework that most humans have been immersed in for thousands of years," so that we properly align ourselves with MNT reality. We need to start working toward this break now, even as we, or less figuratively, as my electronic acquaintance, Robert, my friend Chris, and other scientists, work toward the MNT breakthrough.

  37. Mr_Farlops Says:

    Progress as Entertainment

    "This is a fundamental reason current economic models won't work, or more importantly, why such models won't be required, in the post MNT Milky Way."

    I think that viewing human history, economy and society as cyclical or linear is profoundly flawed.

    History (economies, societies, etc.), like a fractal, may look self-similar in parts, and at times this can be very enlightening or it can can profoundly misleading, but it never repeats. History has no goal and the idea that we are progressing to some sort of goal, save ones that we make up, is an illusion. There may be periods where things get much worse or much better, localized minima and maxima, but on a large enough scale it all evens out.

    I think the only idea that seems to work in thinking about human history or human ecomony is to think of evolving ecosystems. Ecosystems may deceptively look similar in parts. In fact many general concepts recur again and again but the implementation of those concepts is potentially infinite. The number of ways to be a parasite or to cooperate or to compete seems to be infinitely diverse. This basically takes the idea of cycles extends it in very profound and surprising ways.

    On the other hand ecosystems also extends the linear idea of progress until it has nothing to do with heaven or utopia or hell or whatever.

    Can anyone really say that the dinosaurs are the acme of evolution? Are humans? Actually, you could make compelling arguments, like Steven Gould did, that the acme of evolution are bacteria, just in sheer terms of biomass, survivability and constance of form. From an evolutionary standpoint, to assign greater value to bacteria or humans or dinosaurs or whatever is meaningless. All evolution really does is generate novelty but this novelty is no more or no less valuable than all the novelty that proceeded it or that will follow. Everything changes.

    The extropians, some of them at any rate, are wrong if they think we will build gods and heaven. All technology will really do is let us generate novelty. We destroy the old problems only to replace them with new ones–ad infinitum.

    Anyway to bring this to address your point: yes, new economic models will be tried and they will solve the problems of the old economic models but I think this is an endless process because the new economic models will generate new problems that will be intractable until replaced by still newer systems.

    Having said that, I am all for novelty!

    And with that I bow out of these threads which will soon scroll off the front page.

    "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens," said David Byrne.

  38. bhoover Says:

    Re:Progress as Entertainment

    I think that viewing human history, economy and society as cyclical or linear is profoundly flawed.

    Well, "profoundly" might be a little strong – certainly context is important to keep in mind. Unless we go out of our way to screw things up the thing to which the word profound might be most appropriately applied is MNT's potential to free us from, again as Robert put it, survivalist mentality.

    And though history may not repeat itself verbatim, it does so in close enough fashion. And to not attempt, or aspire to avoid cyclical trends within the context of my post is, in my view, degenerate.

    Anyway to bring this to address your point: yes, new economic models will be tried

    Actually it was probably a mistake to suggest a difference in economic models. I'm not even sure what that means. To me, supply and demand, is an economic model, though my mind right now is hearing law of supply and demand, so maybe it's a law :) .

    I entered this thread with an agenda: quite specifically to press the importance of preventing MNT from being highjacked by the New World Order, or if you prefer, high finance, the World Bank, the IMF boys, big business, and being used to maintain the status quo, when such would not merely be corrupt, it would be gratuitously corrupt, out of line with the reality of the benefits MNT will provide. We'll still have trade, supply and demand. But we won't have the motive (scarcity) for global enslavement we do now. At least not in any real sense.

    And this is why I say we must be vigilant in making sure we as a society, properly align ourselves with MNT's reality.

    And with that I bow out of these threads which will soon scroll off the front page.

    How convenient for you :) . You can adjust the comments display through the user preferences interface. But I think we're just about done here anyway – hopefully I'll see ya in another thread Mr_Farlops – funny name, enjoyed your web site :) .

    "Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens," said David Byrne.

    One of my favorite Talking Heads songs. Wished I'd used in my preceding post, as it's apropos to my point.

  39. wurp Says:

    Re:Social Inertia

    I'm not suggesting that we won't need specialization. I think nanotech tends to lead itself to needing more specialization, at least when you're doing things that you want other people to give you money for. However, I think that people will need to work less (I think many will work almost not at all) and will spend more time socializing and doing busywork, which I would expect to be less specialized.

    So, assuming:
    * molecular manufacturing systems are common
    * enough raw materials to produce most anything you would want
    * freely available eide for most anything you want
    (eide is the plural of eidos, the word Plato used for his "ideal forms". I just usurped it to mean blueprints for a nanofactory product.)

    IMO most people will spend most of their time gardening, or customizing their environment, or socializing, or customizing their virtual environment, etc. The time that is spent in doing things to make money would be very specialized, it's just that I believe for most people it would be a small fraction of their lives.

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