My latest FEE article responds to Scott Alexander’s intriguing (but baseless, I think) worries:
Yet these are mere quibbles. The real difficulty is that Alexander has implicitly assumed that the mines of iron ore (that’s how you make steel) are either unowned, or are owned by one of the two operations in the loop. There’s no danger of “out of control” robots creating trillions of copies of themselves without human approval, if the humans own the raw materials.
Finally, even if the robots could somehow multiply by only manipulating matter already within their legal control, the problem here would be one of ill-defined property rights. If it would bother humans to know that the solar system is filling up with robots, then assigning property rights to the various segments of space would be the solution.
In this context, Alexander’s worries about an “ascended economy” have nothing to do with private enterprise, and instead are analogous to someone worried about overgrazing cattle on public lands.