Re: poly: Modeling Economic Singularities

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Wed Apr 22 1998 - 15:11:36 PDT

Nick responds to me responding to Nick:
>> >Are you saying that in addition to this effect there is another effect,
>> >namely that property rights prevent investors from engaging in a race
>> >to first in which they burn up excess returns?
>> Yes, but the degree of property rights required to have this effect
>> is very strong, and unlikely to be seen anytime soon.
>What degree would have that effect? For instance, in the Batman
>example, what property rights could prevent some competitor from
>inventing a successful cartoon? Do you require that the right to make
>cartoons is patentable? What about a race to invent new forms of
>entertainment? Would it be possible to patent the right to entertain?
>Where does the regress end?

There are places it might end, but the main point is that such points
are so far from consideration that we must accept living in a world
of races and average return equaling marginal return.

One place the regress might end is if aliens arrived on Earth and gave
the right to make any cartoon to you, Nick Bostrom, and also made it clear
that they were never going to hand out such future rights in response to
efforts people might make to petition for them. Since it is unlikely
anyone will invent a good substitute for the cartoon anytime soon,
you, the owner of all cartoons, could possibly prevent inefficient
races to be the first out with a bat-like superhero cartoon.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Wed Apr 22 22:14:55 1998

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