Abstract for this talk:
Drexlerian nanotech implies a production technology with large fixed costs of design, low variable cost of production, low cost of copying-the equivalent for physical objects of the current technology for software. This raises an interesting set of issues, paralleling issues that already exist for software—how does the fixed cost get paid for? As with software, and other current forms of intellectual property, the problem is complicated by the difficulty of enforcing copyright or analogous legal rules in the face of easy copying.
Artificial intelligence raises an additional set of difficult and interesting issues having to do with adapting legal and economic institutions to apply to a sort of person very different from all persons that have so far existed. An A.I. can be cloned in a sense in which humans cannot, copying the software as well as the hardware. An A.I. can be turned off and turned on again. Like a human being, an A.I. depends on costly inputs for its survival-but does not arrive in the world associated with existing persons who have a hardwired commitment to its survival and welfare.
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