Pinochet’s Ghost: Let them eat nanotech

Both Instapundit and Outside the Beltway are missing something important about the possibility of Russia being a nanotech leader:  free societies largely depend on the existence of a middle class.  That middle class can be agricultural or urban, service-sectored or industrial… but the deeply impoverished can’t defend themselves from government vampires (or in this case, siloviki, which amounts to the same thing: both are allergic to sunlight), and the upper crust can always cut themselves a deal or remove themselves from a threat.

Large economic benefits from nanotech, while having military repercussions, first and foremost have HUGE civilian production benefits.  So any power that thinks it’s going to use nanotech as a world-stopper, is going to realize that it has inadvertently “lowered the bar” on entry into the middle class… and thus hastened its own demise/transformation.

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1 Comment

  1. Alex

     /  May 7, 2007

    As someone who actually works with nanotech – how nanotech changes society really depends upon what that technology does and what existing technology it replaces. Indeed, all technology that has greatly changed human society fall under this same general rule.
    Computer nanotechnology in use today is still out of the price range for most in the lower classes until the One Laptop Per Child program comes along, in which case it will do as you say – lower that bar into entry into the middle class. But other nanotechnology which may be solely focused on a niche performance aspects which with that level of performance really is only open to the rich who can afford it. It’s not essential to day to day existence. Right now – almost all nanotechnology is in that “not essential” category (existing technology will do the job just fine, and cheaper) and so it will take much longer for this broad area to really impact any society.
    At least in my scientician opinion anyway.

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