Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Implications of Infinite Resources

Discussion on 11/13/2011, led by Billy

Hey everyone,

I'll be leading the discussion this week. We will pick up the topic Craig brought up last time, but never got around to fully discussing: technology and the future of government.

Here is what Craig wrote two weeks ago. He phrased it nicely so please read this as a refresher:

If you look at history, a variety of goods once only available to the rich are now available to everyone — or at least a much greater portion of the population — due to improved technology.

However, the fundamental role of money has not changed as a result of this innovation. Money is still an economic necessity because there is still scarcity. In spite of all the amenities of the modern era in comparison to earlier times — take the variety of cheaply available food in grocery stores, fresh water and readily available shelter, and so on — there are still many things only available to the richest among us simply because we do not possess the resources to give everyone access. Not everyone can own a yacht, and fewer can own private jets.

The central question of this week's discussion will be whether or not this principle that has been universal thus far through human history will ever cease to apply. Is it possible, that with exponentially improving technology and innovations like molecular manufacturing and nanotech that scarcity will actually cease to exist?


I want to further the discussion by bringing up a few more points. Consider any type of governmental system: You'll find a central theme revolving around resource distribution. America, for example, relies on capitalism for resource distribution. On the other end of the spectrum, Marxists rely on communism for resource distribution. Why do we have the need for resource distribution? That's an easy question to answer. Resources are limited. Because resources cannot be equally distributed to everyone (at least up to this point in history), resource distribution is a high priority for any type of government. This should be obvious: Go on any news website and you'll find that half the articles discuss budgets or resource allocation. In fact, it wouldn't be far-fetched to define governments as systems that impose certain resource distribution schemes as "law."

Now, imagine a world where nanotechnology has progressed to a point where we can change materials on the molecular level. In such a world, resources effectively become unlimited. Please think about the following points for the discussion:

  1. In a world of unlimited resources, what would happen to resource distribution? Would this become obsolete or transformed into another form?
  2. If resource distribution ceases to be a problem, what would be a government's new top priority?
  3. In this case, would communism (or any other system that you can think of) become a system that could work? Which system do you think would be the most ideal?
  4. Assuming technologies that can radically redefine resource distribution (such as nanotech that can change structure on the molecular level) are ultimately obtainable with the input of some effort, should we continue to research into such technologies? What would be the societal advantages and disadvantages brought about by the advent of such technologies?