26 February 2013

Why will robots be expensive?

Lion of the Blogosphere | Why robots will be expensive

Several commenters have asked the rather dumb question, “Why would robots be unaffordable to anyone if robots are manufacturing other robots? They should be practically free!” Why does Adobe Photoshop cost $699 when it costs Adobe absolutely nothing for you to download it?
Counter example: The GIMP.

See also: OpenOffice, Blender, Octave, Firefox, GoogleDocs, ...

We have never had more access to free technology, both productive and entertaining, before. I do not see evidence that trend will reverse itself.

I do not think robotics will be free, at least not before a very long-term time horizon. But I also strongly doubt access to them will be as unevenly distributed as was access to either land (the limiting factor before the industrial revolution) or capital (the limiting factor afterwards). Knowledge will be the limitation more than ever before.

Luckily for everyone knowledge can be manufactured endlessly in ways that land, capital, and technology can not be. Furthermore, there is less standing between people and knowledge than ever before.

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