[ExI] the formerly rich and their larvae...

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Tue Feb 12 09:12:19 UTC 2008

Stuart writes

>> A "winner take all" economic singularity would *not*
>> a bad thing at all, given all the current economic trends!
>> Would you really disapprove of the following distribution?
> Well I don't generally disapprove of fairy tales. 

Er, one of the points of this list and the SL4 one is that even stranger
things than the following are conceivable!

>> In 2044 so rich has society become that in 2007 dollars, one
>> person owns the equivalent of 10^46 dollars, and the world's
>> second richest person commands "only" 10^40 dollars. After
>> that, a there are a few hundred people whose wealth puts 
>> them in the $10^30 - $10^40, range, and the average person
>> owns a mere 10^20 dollars.  Those at the very bottom of 
>> society subsist, somehow, upon a mere 10^15 (one quadrillion)
>> dollars, in today's money.
> You seem to somehow have gotten the impression that 
> money creates wealth.

Oh, no!  Not at all.  In explaining this scenario to a
coworker today, however, he made the same mistaken
interpretation of what I was saying.

No.  I mean *real* wealth.  And it's not impossible. To
conceive of such vast disparities, one could begin as
follows. Let person X (say, living in the year 1650)
compare his wealth with Y who lives in -1650 (B.C.,
that is). It could easily happen than person X could
forfeit 10% of his wealth in an even exchange for all
of person Y's wealth.  In other words, much of what
person X has to offer in the 17th century is very
impressive to person Y back in the 17th century B.C.

An important fact in the foregoing is that the
paraphernalia of the 1600s is for the most part
unimaginable to person Y. Literally, until he is

We might find that a similar ten-to-one ratio existed
between a typical 1800 person and the aforementioned
person X. And it could easily happen that someone of
the 1910's would have this very same relationship to
the 17th century guy: he could hand over some small
fraction of his wealth (or toys) for all of the earlier
person's wealth.

You see, of course, where this is going. Even by 2008
we stand far in advance of those living in 1950---I
could easily trade a small part of my electronic gear
alone for all my parents' furniture and utilities of 1950
(well, I'd have to throw in my cheaper electricity and
cheaper water, food, etc).

So it is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility
on *this* list to suppose that this sequence could
continue into the indefinite future.

Thus---passing even through an uploaded stage, and
encountering algorithms that we consider incredibly
valuable---this sequence might be continued from
today's typical $10,000 = $10^4 right up to $10^10 and
then on, eventually, to $10^46. And the 40 generations
that this might require could take place over faster
and faster time intervals, without even a singularity!

NATURALLY we cannot imagine how the richest person
at one point in time who has $10^42 could possible see
anyone as being 10000 times better off than he, but the
relative power scale I described above does explain it.
(Incidentally, in chess there is a ranking scale that
calibrates one person rated 300 points higher than another
winning 7/8 games of their games, and it geometrically
works so that if you are 600 higher than someone,
then you should win 63/64th's of the games, and so on...)

> It doesn't quite work that way. Wealth creates wealth.
> Money is just a medium of exchange for said wealth.

Well, I'd put it this way:  wealth creation up till now comes
from (1) increased trade (sadly limited by the limited extent
of the Earth which we are now encountering for the first time)
(2) technological advances, and (3) specialization (division
of labor). But soon there will be (4) if we're not already
there: algorithmic advance.

> That is what inflation is all about and why governments
> can't just pay their bills by printing money without
> screwing up the economy.

That's for sure.  We need higher interest rates instead of
our government and society---who have been on what
amounts to a "drinking" binge---giving themselves more
"stimulant" to fight the "hangover".

> there are roughly 10^40 dollars in this proposed
> economy and only 6*10^27 grams of matter
> comprising the entire planet earth including
> the bodies those poor! Therefore at a mere
> 1.6*10^18 dollars per gram, should it be a
> sellers market on atoms of matter...

Yes.  What is the number of possible algorithms
in an N-state machine? One gets a small idea from
"The Busy Beaver" problem, as you probably
know. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busy_beaver

> Of course some of the more ecentric proles in Lee
> world may instead elect to forego their bodies
> completely...

Yeah, your logic probably does force me into 
uploading scenarios.

>> Anyone who does not think this distribution of
>> wealth to be an extremely desirable outcome is
>> suffering, purely and simply, from envy.  Or at
>> very least, and conscious appreciation of and
>> catering to all the proles out there who suffer
>> from envy's evil eye.
> Anyone who thinks that this distribution of wealth
> is a feasible, let alone a desirable, outcome is
> suffering, purely and simply, from a chemical
> imbalance. Or at very least high on some very
> powerful drugs.  ;-)  

Well, come now.  The whole point of laying out
an extreme scenario is to make the argument clear.
So what if Bill Gates owns 1% of American wealth
(or something like that, Rockefeller had even more
at one point)?  I couldn't care less, provided that
I myself (and others) are themselves all on 
exponentially increasing paths of wealth garnering.

There do seem to be two points of view here.
One is that relative differences are way less
important than absolute levels, and the other
is that they actually *more* important than
absolute levels.

(I doubt if *anyone* here supposes that it's
a zero-sum game, although, unconsiously....? ?


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