05:50:57 PM Apr 30th 2015
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?
02:00:22 AM Jan 10th 2017
It's been a long time since I read it, but I don't remember Manfred having any "inventor algorythm" that he just milked. The impression I got from the book was that he simply had commercionally-viable ideas, and he gave them to other businessmen (with no contract involved, just informally) who proceded to implement them as if they were theirs and in gratitude took care (in the vague sense) of Manfred.