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Manfred's lifestyle in the very first chapter

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message 1: by Jim (last edited Apr 30, 2015 12:49AM) (new)

Jim Cleaveland Can anyone please explain the economic theory that Stross seems to be promoting in the first chapter, as demonstrated by Manfred's lifestyle?

All the sense I can make of it is that Manfred has a magical "genetic algorithm" program that can effortlessly crank out designs for new inventions, the patents to which he then gives to random people in exchange for free travel, hotels, etc. And yet the story seems to also claim that he has already made this algorithm free to the public, which should mean he has nothing of value to trade with. How is he "making strangers rich," and how does doing so make his lifestyle possible?

There's some vague talk about how the new economy runs on generosity, but no explanation of what the dickens that means. Can someone please explain, in clear English, what economic theory Stross is promoting here? Is it a coherent enough idea that it can be explained?

Is it just that, in a "post-scarcity" world, everything would be free? Yet, in the first chapter at least, Manfred clearly does not yet live in such a world, so... what is he doing, exactly?


message 2: by Matthew (last edited May 29, 2015 10:45PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Matthew Williams Jim wrote: "Can anyone please explain the economic theory that Stross seems to be promoting in the first chapter, as demonstrated by Manfred's lifestyle?

All the sense I can make of it is that Manfred has a..."


I would recommend checking out the concept of the "Sharing Economy" as a way of familiarizing yourself with what's being proposed here. As far as I know, Manfred doesn't so much have a magical algorithm as he is equipped with all the information and computer learning he needs to constantly be able to churn out solutions and ideas to people, which he in turn gives away for free in order to secure goodwill and favors wherever he goes.

As a result, he pays for nothing, earns basically nothing, but has a completely carefree and free-wheeling lifestyle where he constantly invents things and drafts innovative solutions without ever having to be pinned down to any kind of centralized, corporatized, or bureaucratized lifestyle.


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