from the Drexler-says-"Let's-patent-matter-&-its-use" dept.
Paul Hughes reposts from Transdot: It's quite possible the assembler won't be for sale, at least not to the general public. Large companies who can afford a 10-50 billion dollar price tag, may likely obtain licensing rights for its use, but that's a far cry from the average joe owning it…Hopefully, the first company to develop this assembler will not obtain all-inclusive patent rights thereby allowing a sufficient number of competitors to enter the race. Read More for the full post and a response. Paul Hughes writes "I'm still hoping this thread generates some debate. To me it seems, this is one of the more important challenges we're going to have to face over the next decade.
Below is a post I made to the Transdot site about nanotech property rights, and a thoughtful response by Saige follows:
It's quite possible the assembler won't be for sale, at least not to the general public. Large companies who can afford a 10-50 billion dollar price tag, may likely obtain licensing rights for its use, but that's a far cry from the average joe owning it. Basically the first company to develop the assembler, let's say Zyvex, has the potential to completely dominate the economy from that point forward. Zyvex could either retain sole rights to own and use the assembler, or they could develop strict licensing agreements where other companies can have their own assemblers, as long as they pay Zyvex an initial $10 billion and 20% royalties on all future profits. That being the case, Zyvex would quickly become the world's first trillion dollar company, and that's not counting its holdings on Wall Street!
So where's the hope you say? Competition of course! Hopefully, the first company to develop this assembler will not obtain all-inclusive patent rights thereby allowing a sufficient number of competitors to enter the race. Since nanotech has the potential to bring prices of all material goods down to near-zero, that is exactly what will happen if enough competition exists. The current long distance rates are a perfect example of competitive price lowering. Why charge $10/pound for nanomaterials when it costs less than 5 cents/pound to produce? That means you can triple your profits by only charging 15 cents/pound. With enough competition, nanomaterials would soon reach very cheap price points.
…Thats what I fear the most… That either one company, or multiple companies, will develop this technology and abuse the current intellectual property laws to keep it to themselves, and establish pretty much control over things.
After all, wealth isn't really an objective thing, but a subjective thing. Being wealthy is determined by how much more you have than other people. And while after developing this technology they may not have nearly as much need for money themselves, they still have the ability to gain power by keeping it away from other people.
From a corporate view, it would actually be wrong to make this technology available to others. A corporation is all about gaining wealth and power, and that's exactly what the corporate ethics are. To them, it would be unethical to make it available to others, because it would directly oppose their main goal of profit.
To be honest, I'd rather not have nanotechnology, then have it under the complete control of a corporation or two, but be unavailable to me except the goods produced by it. (And likely not the best ones possible, so to guarantee people having to make repeat purchases.)"