What happens when everything is available anywhere?

“if someone managed to illegally replicate a gold bar”
– This quote is the epitome of what you just wrote. Gold is no longer scarce and its value lies in beauty and technical use.
So, the author writes a story with artificial scarcity. Not very forward thinking.


It’s the digital rye management :cry:

Isn’t that how “real” economics and finance work?


I suppose you’re not wrong. I work in finance, essentially, and it’s a lot of multiples and assumptions, not a lot of concrete information.


I’m still hoping for Hall Effect Intelligence. I want a bunch of smart people to go sit outside the White House for a few days and thereby pump up the thinking on the inside, so that we don’t get into a nuclear war. Purely selfish, not altruistic.

Thanks for the warm welcome!

In order to imagine the future as I posit it, I would challenge you to think “macro” — that is, align your thinking to the least common denominator. First, you couldn’t print anything you wanted because there would still be prices for things. The notion of supply and demand will be abstracted over time, but the inherent value of things will persist in order to support a capitalistic economy. That’s why I keep going back to the dollar: it’s not worth anything. It’s not backed by gold anymore. It’s basically a US Government I.O.U. — so it would stand to reason that bread would have some inherent value, as would other foods. That value just happens to be a moving target because our currency is now elastic.

Another example one might use is “print at home” concert tickets. You could print multiple copies of them, but if you only bought one, only one of the many tickets you printed gets you into the show. The others have no value. Now, that ticket has a face value, right? Let’s say you decide you want to sell the ticket. The face value no longer matters. If the concert is sold out, you could likely sell it at a multiple of the face value, whereas if plenty of seats are still available, you may have to sell it beneath face value. Imagine this market model for everything.

So, presumably if someone broke pays the $0 dollars to get the bread, their wealth has to be readjusted since they now own the asset 1 loaf of bread. How would that be valued?

My body has no such qualms. If I print a thousand (unlicensed) big macs, every one of them is going to be processed by my body and converted into energy, just like they are all the real deal. My body doesn’t have the equivalent of the bouncer a concert venue has to see if the ticket I printed has been used yet.

I still don’t really see how this would work so maybe I’m making some incorrect assumptions about your world. I assume everybody will have access to a printing machine, I’m also assuming that printing with this machine will be, like printing on a regular printer, so cheap as to be functionally free for every individual use and I’m assuming there is no reason that prevents open-source files that can be printed.

A good counter example of something that has a big value but is consistently offered for free is the linux operating system. It’s used for the majority of all webservers, and more and more desktops are powered by it. For a lot of functions it is even the (by far) best available option, I’m sure a sizable fraction of the people currently using it would be willing to pay for it if that was somehow necessary but the reason it is so popular, the reason for it’s high quality, is linked to it’s being free. What prevents this from happing to printed food in your world?

The elastic currency is also really intriguing, looking forward to reading and learning about that.


It would only take on a value if they wanted to buy something else or sell the bread they had. The currency is an auction system.

Everything that’s printed is governed by DRM-esque system that controls supply. The controls are implemented on the printer (and no, not everybody owns one), like a better implementation of, say, regional playback controls on youtube. Also not everything would be categorized the same. I stated earlier that no one goes hungry, but not everybody eats like a king. You’re right, some people wouldn’t care that they’re eating a fake Big Mac, just as some people don’t mind owning fake Rolex watches, or using truffle oil knowing full well there are no truffles in it, etc… Anyway, this topic’s going to be closed before I get back here next time so if you want to continue the conversation, come to The Punch Escrow FB page. Or better yet, read the book and then come there :wink:

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It seems like you could win every auction by bidding 99% every time. There would always be a little left, and the actual sum of money would not matter?

Then, when everyone learned to do this, winners and losers would be determined by how the system dealt with rounding errors and floating-point underflow.

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That could apply to any of his novels. As long as the plot never actually resolves to an ending.

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Pardon the massive nitpick but this entire thing sounds like a bunch of popular topical gimmicks strung together with a basis of pseudo-science. World building is of course part of the art of fiction but what I don’t see here is any mention of story. What is the book really about and why should I care to read it? World building on its own just isn’t enough, it is really only the background setting which shapes the narrative of the characters.

You seem to have a very restrictive view of what makes for fiction. :slight_smile:

I won’t disagree with you about whether ‘good’ fiction should have the things you bemoan the lack of but I don’t think an ending or resolution is necessary. I might prefer it but it’s perfectly possible to write an very enjoyable work of fiction that doesn’t come to any sort of conclusion.

As for plot - it seems to me that certainly in the field of science fiction/fantasy there’s a long pedigree of the novel or story that has no plot (or characters) beyond taking a scientific development and trying to show what impact the author thinks that development could have.

I don’t know whether this novel has a plot but even if not, world building on its own can be plenty. See for example something like Gulliver’s Travels which really doesn’t have much of a plot beyond Gulliver goes travelling, gets to some new freaky place where socially satirical things happen. Then he comes home. The End.

Or even something like Brave New World - there is a plot sure but I couldn’t tell you off the top of my head what it is beyond the outsider comes to ‘civilisation’ and looks around at all the freaky weirdness. But pretty much everyone can remember the soma, the caste system and the behavioural conditioning.

It does usually help if there is a plot and characters I agree but I wouldn’t write off a novel that only did world building as long as it did it really well or did something novel with it.

Fair cop. This one doesn’t seem to be doing anything novel as far as we know.

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Some of the very best SF not only warns about the implications of a feasible future technology, but also successfully predicts that technology.

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