New Economy and Item Cost

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Ramidel Ramidel's picture
New Economy and Item Cost
I've been kind of scratching this thought around for a while now: In a New Economy autonomist or argonaut (the two groups being pretty linked...) habitat, what kind of items would cost anything beyond a Trivial pull of energy and raw matter? What items, even if High cost in hypercorp space, would simply be "oh, go ahead and download the blueprint that 1337nerd cracked two weeks ago, it's on hir server?" in Locus? Similarly, what kinds of software would...let's rephrase, would [i]not[/i]... be freely supported and available no-favors-asked to anyone with any access whatsoever to r-net?
Moon-Hawk Moon-Hawk's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost

I'm thinking along the lines of your second question: things that are not freely supported and available.

Well, the one that jumps out at me is anything that threatens the habitat as a whole. Chemical weapons, larger-than-a-firecracker bombs, and any weapon capable of penetrating the outer hull of the hab. For example, even if your research legitimately demands a 20 petawatt laser, the fact that it could, if pointed at the outer wall, kill everyone in the hab will cause it to be "expensive", in terms of requiring a high social standing and/or significant regulation.
For that matter, any weapon larger-than-reasonable for personal defense will at least raise some eyebrows, if not be forbidden.

Beyond that, even if your autonomist hab is all for cracking the newest clothing schematics, I would speculate that things designed by people within your particular community would not be okay to crack. Sure, in some communities no one would ever make a blueprint then keep it to themselves, but I'd bet that a fair number of autonomist communities still have and respect the copyrights of particularly clever designs which were developed within their community.

Of course there are the things that no fabrication technique can steal the value of, such as live performances or (if you value such things) old artifacts or hand-made creations.

Some things simply do not have a trivial pull of energy and/or matter. For example if you want to build yourself a little spaceship, that is a seriously non-trivial pull of matter, which (depending on the habitat) might actually use up a significant supply of some of your elemental raw matter. I could be wrong, but I don't think a standard cornucopia machine splits atoms, so if your custom doodad requires a ton of Tungsten, a million tons of carbon won't help. As another example, my petawatt laser mentioned above. That's a trivial energy cost as long as you're firing it for a nothingth of a second, but if you want to keep it on for any amount of time you're using a significant amount of your habitat's power. Also, if your doodad requires antimatter, pretty much any amount of that is non-trivial, not to mention falling under the weapon of mass destruction category.

The last thing that I can think of is, in a reputation-based economy, anything that hurts your reputation becomes inherently expensive. For example, if your economy is based on reputation, and your beyond-socially-acceptable porn collection causes your reputation to drop, then that item is de facto expensive. So anything that is distasteful, stigmatized, or wrong in your particular neck of the solar system would be expensive, but only if someone knows you're acquiring it or its blueprints.

That's all I can think of for now.

standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
I'd agree. Anything that is personal and reasonably sized, without requiring exotic materials, being extremely dangerous or socially unacceptable, should be easy to produce. Bear in mind, each hab will have their own specific rules (or lack thereof) as to what constitutes "acceptable", "dangerous" etc. Also, each hab will have its own level of energy and matter available.
[img]http://boxall.no-ip.org/img/ext_userbar.jpg[/img] "People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee
puke puke's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
its not just about getting the trickest morph and the biggest gun, though. the things most protected will be information. sometimes you dont want an item, you just want to know something. maybe you have to convince someone to tell you by having or burning the right rep. or maybe you want to get or hide information yourself. you want blueprints to fab some encryption or electronic warfare hardware, or the source code to some decryption algorithms. there may be simple ones that are commonly available, but the upper eschalons of the security comunity might guard their prized secrets a little more closely, so they stay on the top a little longer before the competition reverse engineers them and a new generation of encryption/decryption algorithms rolls out. you'd have to be awfully convincing or in the right crows or burn the right favors to get to use the high-end tools. and thats a challenge in its self. if you want the ability to snoop on a super-encrypted conversation, what can you possibly do that would be a favor to someone who already CAN snoop on any super-encrypted conversation? how do you even find that person in the first place? i think these are the ideas that the Rep econcomy are supposed to be about, and not so much the fabrication of common gear.
standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
Very good point. I would also add favours and services (in a wider sense than intelligence and information), which also ought to be (depending on the hab) as - if not more - important as physical gear. This would be mundane things like babysitting and bodyguarding nad complex things like planning the architecture of a new hab dwelling and acting as an agent representing a hypercorp business. Other things include running errands, giving pleasure, entertainment, legal services, technical expertise, engineering skills, cooking fine food and anything else that is required by the HABitants in any given point of time. Favours and services also of course, thankfully, include a myriad of things that could throw the PCs into interesting intrigues, action, mystery and...horror. Sidenote: I like the term "HABitants", which has interesting historical connotations http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habitants
[img]http://boxall.no-ip.org/img/ext_userbar.jpg[/img] "People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee
Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
OK, a few random thoughts. Electronics are not free. Depending on the design they may be trivial but your average piece of electro-kit requires gold and silver (for conductivity), carbon and/or silicon and a few other uncommon elements. Now that may only mean that making yourself a new ecto uses half your daily feed allowance, but if you want your own server the materials and the power drain start stacking up. If you're an infomorph you might be able to get one in place of the habitat that people with physical morphs need. When it comes to hacked blueprints and software, its a bit trickier. I would actually say that none of these are "free" except for actual open source files. After all, your p2p rating is part of your overall rep. If you're leaching every pirate file you can without seeding anything back, you're essentially asking for a lot of minor favors without giving anything in return. Do it long enough and your rep will suffer. You may not have to pay, or expressly ask for a favor, to get a copy of Freejack's crack of Duke Nuke 'Em 4 but if he's the only one distributing, you can bet he'll remember who has copies when he needs someone to pick up his shift checking airlock safety seals.
Iv Iv's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
Zophiel wrote:
Electronics are not free. Depending on the design they may be trivial but your average piece of electro-kit requires gold and silver (for conductivity), carbon and/or silicon and a few other uncommon elements.
There is probably more gold and silver inside your body than into your laptop. They are not even crucial if you have nano-manufacturing procedures (gold is used because of its melting and conductive capacity but copper would be better as a conductor if you could lay it on silicon easily) And carbon and silicon are 4th and 8th most common elements in the universe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abundance_of_the_chemical_elements
Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
In that case, see the reference to software. Although it is reasonable to assume that transhuman computers do use exotic elements in their construction. Even with carbon rod logic, the power source is likely to use some funky things. Durable goods also take more resources than consumables with the same mass of the same elements, since they're not expected to be recycled anytime soon.
standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
Iv wrote:
carbon and silicon are 4th and 8th most common elements in the universe.
Although perfectly true, the distances involved in terms of logistics are off the scale compared to what we, 21st century humans, are used to. Earth's residents are very lucky indeed that they have what they need (practically everything except he-3) within a VERY short and convenient distance. (Example: Earth's diameter is barely 13k km, distance to Luna is on average 384k km - and Luna is very close compared to other places in the system.) I tend to agree with OneTrikPony on this forum, i.e. that the effort of hauling material across the solar system is expensive, dangerous and time-consuming. Sure, there is recycling, but this only means that you are under a lot of pressure to stick to your weekly/daily quotas or you mess up the habitat's economics.
[img]http://boxall.no-ip.org/img/ext_userbar.jpg[/img] "People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee
Iv Iv's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
My point is that if any chunk of matter is at your reach, it is likely it will contain carbon and silicon. Most rocks do. And biologic organisms shit carbon. Cornucopian machines do pose a problem and I am only mildly satisfied at how it is handled. According to the rules, if I got to an asteroid with a cornucopian machine, I could begin to build more cornucopian machines and transform the whole mass of the asteroid into a war fleet in a matter of days. (And the whole mass of Luna in a matter of weeks) I ruled that CMs could not make other CMs or nano fabricators and that they take an exaggerated amount of energy to work. Someone also has to explain to me why morphs are in shortage if they can be nano-fabricated in less than a day.
standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
Iv wrote:
I ruled that CMs could not make other CMs or nano fabricators and that they take an exaggerated amount of energy to work.
Not sure if CMs should be able to make other CMs or not, but I do agree that they should consume considerable energy. My understanding of physics is rudimental at best, so I may be wrong, but I cannot see why construction or destruction of goods using nanofabrication would consume less energy than any other means of production. You take atoms and put them together or pull them apart, and the energy required is pretty much set in stone. Perhaps nuclear fusion technology means an abundance of cheap energy, but what about the transportation of he-3 to those habitats not lucky enough to have it nearby? The core book is silent on this matter (I think).
Iv wrote:
Someone also has to explain to me why morphs are in shortage if they can be nano-fabricated in less than a day.
Agreed. I can only add that hab space is one limitation, but also this should be a limited hurdle in a post-scarcity nanofabrication universe. I mean, synthmorphs don't even require life support, so whats the issue here? In the inner system politics certainly discourage new "unstable" habs for the clanking masses, but what is preventing huge "synths only" havens in, say, the asteroid belt?
[img]http://boxall.no-ip.org/img/ext_userbar.jpg[/img] "People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee
Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
standard_gravity wrote:
Iv wrote:
carbon and silicon are 4th and 8th most common elements in the universe.
Earth's residents are very lucky indeed that they have what they need (practically everything except he-3) within a VERY short and convenient distance.
Its a small thing, and maybe chicken and egg but I daresay its the other way around. Earth's residents progressed in technology based on what was available. Habs probably have, to a limited extent, done the same thing. Hydrocarbon rich Titan is going to have a lot of diamond construction. Ferrous asteroids will probably use iron composites of some type instead. I imagine the pressure to stay within your quota is fairly soft. At least from the flavor text it tends to be five to six times what the average person actually consumes. Once the novelty of making yourself a new wardrobe everyday wears off, I doubt most people use it. On the other hand there is a very hard pressure for the hab as a whole to keep within limits. Those limits are difficult to strain, but if it ever happens everyone may find their quotas much more stringently enforced and possibly reduced. When it comes to energy, I'm reminded of The Diamond Age. Nanofactories in that book produce tremendous waste heat, as do computers based on nanorod logic. The movement of any one piece is negligible but the combined zillions of manufacturing bots take huge amounts of power. So yes, turning an asteroid into a war fleet is possible in theory. Marshaling the power requirements to do so is much, much harder. I'm not even sure how I would calculate the energy cost to construct a warship using conventional means, but you'd need at least that many kilocalories worth of energy to pump into your nanites. Its Mercury's big advantage.
standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
Interesting point on the development of habitats according to what they have at hand. I think you are spot on, although I maintain that when you need something that you don't have handy (be it energy, raw materials or manufactured goods) it will be expensive to bring it across the solar system to your hab. As for the quotas, of course it will be no pressure as long as you stay within your limits! These limits are - according to the book - quite generous and will cover most consumables and every-day appliances. But the limits will vary depending on the general welfare and economics of your hab and will in all but the most extreme cases not cover extraordinary things such as building your own nanofabricator or space shuttle. I totally agree on the energy point. This is both realistic (as far as I gather) and, equally important, good for the game in that campaigns will not get out of hand (CM + CM + CM + asteroid equals system threatening warfleet).
[img]http://boxall.no-ip.org/img/ext_userbar.jpg[/img] "People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee
Iv Iv's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
I must say that I would have prefered that the book gave us the latitude to determine longer manufacturing periods instead of just leaving us with the energy requirement. The existence of desktop and even portable CMs seem to indicate that their power requirements are quite low. In Accelerando, the combined existence of AI and nano-manufacturing causes several planets of the solar system to be deconstructed within years. Even with low speed and huge energy requirements, it initiates an exponential movement. Anyway, this could be a condition that triggers an exsurgent virus. Who says it is only triggered by seed AIs ? Maybe we should start a thread about how to contain the nano-facturing singularity ?
Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
What I meant about enforcing quotas is more that if one person doubles or triples his limit for a day, or maybe even a week, the quota cops aren't going to come make him disappear in the night. Its only when the problem becomes systemic and threatens the hab's well being that quotas effect anything besides rep. As for the recursive nano-singularity, remember that there are no self replicating nanites. Nanofacturing is something that happens inside CM's. There's a practical upper limit to CM size (at least that's the impression I get) of about 10m on a side. So if you want to build a war fleet, even with infinite power, you first need to build a bunch of CM's to build assembly robots who can put together the parts that come out of the machines. Now, assuming you brought your own fusion plant or you're on Mercury I suppose there's no reason you can't make assembler nanites that function outside of the machine and program them to build their own recharging grid as they go. Then you really could just walk away and let them construct your ships much faster than could be done through conventional or even CM means. On the other hand, if anyone, anyone finds out they're going to scream "TITAN agent!" and people will be lining up to nuke you.
Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
What I meant about enforcing quotas is more that if one person doubles or triples his limit for a day, or maybe even a week, the quota cops aren't going to come make him disappear in the night. Its only when the problem becomes systemic and threatens the hab's well being that quotas effect anything besides rep. As for the recursive nano-singularity, remember that there are no self replicating nanites. Nanofacturing is something that happens inside CM's. There's a practical upper limit to CM size (at least that's the impression I get) of about 10m on a side. So if you want to build a war fleet, even with infinite power, you first need to build a bunch of CM's to build assembly robots who can put together the parts that come out of the machines. Now, assuming you brought your own fusion plant or you're on Mercury I suppose there's no reason you can't make assembler nanites that function outside of the machine and program them to build their own recharging grid as they go. Then you really could just walk away and let them construct your ships much faster than could be done through conventional or even CM means. On the other hand, if anyone, anyone finds out they're going to scream "TITAN agent!" and people will be lining up to nuke you. Good for a morally ambiguous villain in a plot, not so good for a player character.
standard_gravity standard_gravity's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
Zophiel wrote:
assuming you brought your own fusion plant or you're on Mercury I suppose there's no reason you can't make assembler nanites that function outside of the machine and program them to build their own recharging grid as they go. Then you really could just walk away and let them construct your ships much faster than could be done through conventional or even CM means.
Indeed. As I said in a different thread "the economic benefit of nanofabricators is that labour costs are drastically lowered (costs related to raw materials, energy and R&D – for example – remain the same). However, with the availability of cheap synthmorphs and AIs it would be very possible even without nanofabricators to push down labour costs to almost zero." (see http://www.eclipsephase.com/rep-inflexible-and-oppressive) Sure, nanofabs could be as free-for-all as the devs seem to intend, and I'm sure there could be a plausible enough explanation that satisfies scientific concerns as to realism. However, in the end of the day it's a question of what I as a GM want my version of the EP universe to look like, and I have a feeling that it is a bit more gritty and miserable than what the devs have in mind. Which is fine - one of the beautiful things with RPGs is that I am God! ;)
Iv wrote:
Maybe we should start a thread about how to contain the nano-facturing singularity ?
Yup, I think we should... We don't want to compeltely hijacked this thread, do we? The CM-singularity issue would be msot appropriately discussed here: http://www.eclipsephase.com/forums/transhumanism/-apocalypse-and-other-p....
[img]http://boxall.no-ip.org/img/ext_userbar.jpg[/img] "People think dreams aren't real just because they aren't made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes." - John Dee
Iv Iv's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
Zophiel wrote:
As for the recursive nano-singularity, remember that there are no self replicating nanites.
If there are CMs able to do CMs, that is close enough for me. I don't need my reproductive machine to be on the nano-scale for them to recover all of Mercury's surface. Okay, let's not make a war fleet (though I believe I read mentionned that spaceships were nano-fabricated). Instead I'll build synthmorphs and sell them on the market for almost nothing.
Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
Iv wrote:
Okay, let's not make a war fleet (though I believe I read mentionned that spaceships were nano-fabricated). Instead I'll build synthmorphs and sell them on the market for almost nothing.
OK, sure. I mean that's what they do in a New Economy, right? Of course you have to get the synths or the asteroid somewhere to sell them first. Then you have to get them into the hab and set up a supply chain (if you're somewhere that wants to tax and regulate). Or I suppose you could build 1,000 Reapers and fork yourself into all of them.
Iv Iv's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
Zophiel wrote:
Or I suppose you could build 1,000 Reapers and fork yourself into all of them.
Yeah, I mean... who needs a [i]gang[/i] anyway ?
Zophiel Zophiel's picture
Re: New Economy and Item Cost
The real point being that by the time you have the power requirements, the transport requirements etc etc you're just another manufacturing concern. . . or evil overlord in training. Expect the world to respond accordingly.