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Old 09-17-2013, 10:19 PM   #21
DangerousThing
 
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Default Re: Nanofabricators, DRM and Forced Scarcity

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Originally Posted by Ulzgoroth View Post
It's a three-tier system, but what 'medium money' means is in my opinion unsatisfactorily explained and never explored. Notionally medium money refers to natural resources, solid capital, and (puzzlingly) long-term debts, but how that can be used as money is not made clear. Only fast and slow are of much relevance to the plot.
Really long term debt is slow money. It is stable because the entire economy is built around it.
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Old 09-17-2013, 10:41 PM   #22
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Default Re: Nanofabricators, DRM and Forced Scarcity

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You have discovered for yourself the first problem with this fantasy, which is that economics is about scarcity and these things aren't scarce. The price (and marginal value) of a commodity in competitive equilibrium is equal to the marginal cost of its production, and the marginal cost of production of copies of abstract designs and compositions is very low. You need to create artificial scarcity to make these pseudo-commodities valuable, and that is working against the grain of nature.

The second problem is this: if IP is the only valuable commodity, what do the consumers pay for it with? What do the IP owners screw out of the consumers to make it all worth their while? If real, material products are available very cheaply even to people who have nothing to sell except their worthless labour, then why not give away your IP?

If something other than IP is important and scarce, then it makes sense for the IP owners to pervert the government into making IP pseudo-scarce so that they can use that scarcity to get a big share of X. But if IP is the only significant valuable commodity, why bother? Everyone would be better off to just give up.
I'd assume the thing other than IP that is important and scarce is labor.
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Old 09-17-2013, 11:01 PM   #23
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Default Re: Nanofabricators, DRM and Forced Scarcity

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Originally Posted by Langy View Post
I'd assume the thing other than IP that is important and scarce is labor.
If you have nanofabricators, human labor has a near zero value.
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Old 09-17-2013, 11:04 PM   #24
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Default Re: Nanofabricators, DRM and Forced Scarcity

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If you have nanofabricators, human labor has a near zero value.
Only for manufacturing.

Human labor is still quite useful in almost all other instances, such as as engineers, doctors, maids, servers, technicians operating and repairing nanofacs, etc, etc, etc.
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Old 09-18-2013, 06:22 AM   #25
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Default Re: Nanofabricators, DRM and Forced Scarcity

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Open source hardware may not exist if there's only one manufacturer of the nanofac with a monopoly on the process, or the government mandates the draconian DRM measures.
I think this is an important part of making this setting work. Open source is illegal, or so restricted as to be unimportant.

The rationalizations for this can be various, but the real reason is that the government says so. Probably because IP producers don't want the competition.

And a nanofab that will accept any plan that hasn't been properly tagged is itself extremely illegal.

Possible rationalizations:

Liability: Open source stuff has not been properly checked for safety, and when you are crippled by your toaster, who is going to pay your medical bills?

Open Source is something those evil baby-eating infosocialists who want to kill us all believe in!

The public domain does not exist, or rather the government owns anything not specifically owned by someone else. How else will they pay for all their vital services without all those toaster royalties?

Open source plans could actually be for bioweapons or illegal hacking gear or other Bad Stuff. Only properly cleared and tagged stuff can be trusted. And the process of getting cleared is so onerous and expensive that no one can afford to do it if they don't charge for the final product.
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Old 09-18-2013, 06:38 AM   #26
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Default Re: Nanofabricators, DRM and Forced Scarcity

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Originally Posted by Langy View Post
Only for manufacturing.

Human labor is still quite useful in almost all other instances, such as as engineers, doctors, maids, servers, technicians operating and repairing nanofacs, etc, etc, etc.
What for? If you need that, you fabricate robots or bioroids to do this stuff. Even if the setting somehow lacks decent AI, the nanotech revolution, which is required for nanofabs, also enables construction of bioroids.
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:14 AM   #27
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Default Re: Nanofabricators, DRM and Forced Scarcity

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Originally Posted by cptbutton View Post
I think this is an important part of making this setting work. Open source is illegal, or so restricted as to be unimportant.

The rationalizations for this can be various, but the real reason is that the government says so. Probably because IP producers don't want the competition.

And a nanofab that will accept any plan that hasn't been properly tagged is itself extremely illegal.

Possible rationalizations:

Liability: Open source stuff has not been properly checked for safety, and when you are crippled by your toaster, who is going to pay your medical bills?

Open Source is something those evil baby-eating infosocialists who want to kill us all believe in!

The public domain does not exist, or rather the government owns anything not specifically owned by someone else. How else will they pay for all their vital services without all those toaster royalties?

Open source plans could actually be for bioweapons or illegal hacking gear or other Bad Stuff. Only properly cleared and tagged stuff can be trusted. And the process of getting cleared is so onerous and expensive that no one can afford to do it if they don't charge for the final product.
Sounds SoD-straining and/or very hard to set up.
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:20 AM   #28
Langy
 
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Default Re: Nanofabricators, DRM and Forced Scarcity

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
What for? If you need that, you fabricate robots or bioroids to do this stuff. Even if the setting somehow lacks decent AI, the nanotech revolution, which is required for nanofabs, also enables construction of bioroids.
Which doesn't help if you can't program them or you consider them illegal, since they're effectively slaves.

EDIT: I think a reasonable explanation for why open source is illegal is the belief that open source nanofacs would be essentially weapons of mass economic destruction - they'd completely annihilate the economy, probably resulting very, very swiftly in the government toppling and anarchy ruling the nation.

Also, open source nanofacs can probably be used as weapons of normal mass destruction, possibly through a 'grey goo' scenario or just via building nuclear bombs.

Last edited by Langy; 09-18-2013 at 07:24 AM.
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:34 AM   #29
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Default Re: Nanofabricators, DRM and Forced Scarcity

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Originally Posted by cptbutton View Post
I think this is an important part of making this setting work. Open source is illegal, or so restricted as to be unimportant.

The rationalizations for this can be various, but the real reason is that the government says so. Probably because IP producers don't want the competition.

And a nanofab that will accept any plan that hasn't been properly tagged is itself extremely illegal.

Possible rationalizations:

Liability: Open source stuff has not been properly checked for safety, and when you are crippled by your toaster, who is going to pay your medical bills?

Open Source is something those evil baby-eating infosocialists who want to kill us all believe in!

The public domain does not exist, or rather the government owns anything not specifically owned by someone else. How else will they pay for all their vital services without all those toaster royalties?

Open source plans could actually be for bioweapons or illegal hacking gear or other Bad Stuff. Only properly cleared and tagged stuff can be trusted. And the process of getting cleared is so onerous and expensive that no one can afford to do it if they don't charge for the final product.
This sounds pretty much what I was aiming for, though maybe a bit extreme. I didn't think it was very plausible to have a monolithic evil corporate state encompassing most of known space, when any rush for the colonies would essentially fragment and decentralize humanity. However, to make the piracy more playable, I opted for reeeally fast, casual, cheap space travel (i.e. you can buy a personal interplanetary ship for ~$500,000), which might make things a lot easier for the DRM empire.

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Originally Posted by vicky_molokh View Post
What for? If you need that, you fabricate robots or bioroids to do this stuff. Even if the setting somehow lacks decent AI, the nanotech revolution, which is required for nanofabs, also enables construction of bioroids.
"Bioroids" was always a puzzling category to me. It's like treating in-vitro fertilized humans as slaves because being made differently strips them of human rights, capacity for sapience be damned. I never found it convincing how THS defined them; it felt like a convoluted way to introduce replicants from Blade Runner and synthetics from Alien into the setting.

I don't think tertiary and quaternary sectors would be all that affected by a nanofab economy. Politics, software engineering, filmmaking, journalism, consultancy, law, and many other professions can't really be automated (though they might employ less people). I'm not even sure which blue-collar professions would survive besides maybe "AI supervisor." People who would do menial tasks in our world would be on the dole...
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Old 09-18-2013, 07:35 AM   #30
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Default Re: Nanofabricators, DRM and Forced Scarcity

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Originally Posted by Langy View Post
I'd assume the thing other than IP that is important and scarce is labor.
In that case it is not true that IP is the only valuable commodity, which means abandoning the premise of the setting. Besides: if you have these wonderful make-anything machines making everything, why is human labour scarce enough to be valuable?

I think these settings are all very well for a cautionary tale, an "If This Goes On" about current trends in IP law and DRM, but they aren't really very interesting because they don't stand up to being thought about.
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