Hot answers tagged

89

Let's look at the world of shipping here on Earth for inspiration I have a suspicion that if you look at the history of shipping, you'll discover that whether it's a cart or a bullet train, the basic limitations for being an independent owner/operator of a shipping company remain the same. I own a pickup truck and that lets me do a great many things, ...


86

Moving away from a pure element (covered by other answers) to a material, something that has a special property. Consider something that is made rare by the very presence of your intergalactic society. Let's suppose your warp drives give off low-levels of some kind of radiation, so any alloys destined for sensitive equipment need to be space-smelted in ...


77

This cannot be answered. But rather than just voting to close as opinion based, it might have value to stop and think about the reasons this cannot be answered. As the reasons are kind of interesting and possibly of use to you and others with same issues. What is crime? This is not actually obvious. To give an easy, if possibly politically risky, example ...


57

Space elevator. The cost of sending astronauts and basic materials like water, food and oxygen to the ISS are enormous. The risks associated with firing a tube of metal filled to the brim with volatile chemicals into space are enormous, too. Immagine how much NASA and other space agencies would pay a person that could transport people and material to the ...


56

This practice was done all the time in Medieval Europe, the most famous being the Swiss Guard which was formed in the late 15th century and were stationed as guards in foreign courts until 1847 amendment to the Swiss Constitution outlawed all foreign military service with exception to the Pontifical Swiss Guard (The Swiss Guard that protects the Pope to this ...


47

While the Roman Empire had the technological knowledge to build aqueducts, roads and buildings like the Pantheon, in the same continent there were populations which were not far herding sheep in countryside. And this with no magic. Also while the Egyptian were building the Pyramids the rest of the African population were at most tribal nations, hunting or ...


47

Gated Nation One scenario that comes to mind is Monaco. One in three is a [multi-] millionaire. Most of the working-class do not live in Monaco, but commute from France. The "country" is full of rich people (is that a "rich country"?), but has a small if not non-existent middle class citizenry. "From Each According to His Ability, To Whatever." Another ...


39

Bodyguard / Chauffeur The ultra rich could pay upto $70 million for a private jet. How much would they pay for a bodyguard / chauffeur who can get them to their destination instantaneously and in the event of an kidnapping, get them out safely. It would the ultimate status symbol over their rich mates. "What, you fly a private jet? How passé. I prefer ...


36

Why Things Are Valuable Basic economic theory says that a thing will have a higher cost as its demand outpaces its supply. Note that this doesn't actually take rarity into account at all. Rare things are expensive because they have an inherently small supply, but you can also have a relatively common thing be expensive just by increasing the demand for it ...


35

Let's start with a bit of a Frame Challenge: you really don't want perfect digital currency It's important for you to understand that you can always ascribe more magic to digital currency. You can declare it to be secure, less costly to use/process, better synchronized, etc., etc., etc. If you're going to do that, then why ask the question? Hard ...


34

A well-run dictatorship is superior to any other form of government. Well-run dictatorships are unicorns though, since most of the goals I'm about to list are the exact opposite of what dictators are aiming for. Why can a dictatorship be great? Because you can ignore special interests and other inefficiencies. You can remove corruption. You can invest ...


34

Remove it. In fact, you should probably keep it away from the planet, unless there is a special reason to have it, and unless you are prepared to have technological differences hijack any plot. Cyberpunk is usually about a harsh, uncaring society. So why should a street gang member not sell the contents of his flat, buy an assault rifle and a crate full of ...


34

You just pass laws on each world allowing the purchase and sale of the other world’s currency, with some sensible regulation to make sure people can’t get ripped off. Then the markets will establish the exchange rate and arrange the physical transport of any currency that actually needs to be moved, just like between two countries on Earth at present.


34

Shorting gold You don't actually need to make the gold, you don't strictly even need to have access to the machine. Just short the gold and then let people know the machine exists. The simple fact that someone now has an unlimited supply of gold will cause the market to crash and the profit is already made. Note that if you do this with company stocks you'...


33

Post-scarcity does not mean we become happy robots We occasionally get questions asking about how the darker side of humanity can exist when the external influences that supposedly drive that darker side no longer exist. Forgive me for being honest and blunt, but I consider the idea laughable. It's as if humanity does bad things because some idiot ...


33

There is a book that is commonly referenced for medieval life questions called Life in a Medieval Village by Frances and Joseph Gies. If you're interested in realism you should be able to draw a lot of inspiration from it. The book focuses on a English village called Elton around the 13th century. Among the manorial court records there are references to ...


32

Handmade items made by a famous artisan from a famous planet. These items could be decorative (paintings, vases), utilitarian (glassware, pottery, handbag, shoes), or functional (instrument, book (signed and numbered). Basically anything that takes personal effort to make will cost more simply because someone will have to put forth the effort rather than ...


31

Depending on the power requirement per kilogram, You may have created an infinite energy generator. From your question and one of your comments: It can take in a batch of source elements, and perform any nuclear fusion reaction without consideration of conservation of nuclear binding energy. The energy required to power the conversion of 1kg of ...


26

Maximizing short-term profits will be different than long-term profits. A rare element synthesized will lose value faster as the relative amount put into the market will depress the price faster as opposed so something less valuable but more common. It will probably involve some speculation and calculations of what is in demand and what you can get the ...


25

Religion would factor in heavily, Take the Amish for example their technological development came to a complete stop due to them choosing not to progress because of their faith. And look at how technology was stunted in times/areas where religion became more important then science. But even without religion culture can have a heavy influence on the ...


24

Nothing would change. In this world, the CEOs of large "free-lending" companies would make millions on repair fees, gas fees, and any other kind of reimbursements simply by charging them more than it costs to fix it. Even if charging the customer more than it costs to fix it is not allowed - which prevents profit - money will always be used to make more ...


23

Reasons hard currency might still have a place in an interstellar society Diverse levels of technology between different star systems or planets or groups of that trade with each other. If the technology is ubiquitous and homogenous then cryptocurrencies would be sufficient. But on a frontier world or a mineral prospecting or animal hunting environment ...


22

Let me list a few ideas: Metal products. It is very unlikely that there would be many merfolk willing to spend prolonged periods of time outside of water just to craft metal objects. Metal products can be many, from weapons(most likely harpoons, or other weapons that are meant to stab) to tools, jewelry and ornaments. While rare, you don't need to use much ...


21

All in all it depends on what materials they use the most of. If the galactic strip miners use more carbon than they produce then you can bet it will become expensive in very short order! However, if they’re pulling apart the galaxy as fast as I think they are: there’s one thing that I think would be of interest: Lithium Lithium is incredibly useful. It is ...


21

Do you have a genuine anarchy or is it more a tribal or organized crime setting? The "families" do not want any city government to interfere with their business. The "families" want to do business with each other, so in the absence of law they must gain a reputation for keeping their word, and for punishing betrayals. The "families" want tourists to spend ...


21

What does it mean to be wealthy? If you'll forgive a Frame Challenge, you're trying to define wealth in terms of money and then you want to level out the playing field. That doesn't work. Wealth must be defined in terms of luxury, influence, and power. In other words, a wealthy person is one who can secure the services of others in circumstances when the ...


21

Robert Zubrin answers this in his non-fiction book "The Case for Mars", in the chapter the "Interplanetary Commerce": Precious metals. This has already been written in another answer. Zubrin states however that it is not yet clear how abundant these are. Deuterium Deuterium is important for Fusion reactors and according to the book Martian water is ...


20

This is already done in the army In the U.S. Army, they move people from base to base all the time, not because they need more people here or there necessarily, but because they intend to prevent factions from developing within the service due to prolonged proximity. Randomly moving people around all the time homogenizes the military and protects its ...


20

You don't need to explain it, because that's already happened in Europe not too long ago. While the european nations were running toward WW2, building the Stukas, the V2 and all similar feats, in the south of the continent there were regions still living in conditions similar to stone age: a single room carved in the rock, where parents and 10 kids lived ...


19

Benefit: the Hegemony can use this to get its vassal states to bend the knee and keep it bent. Argentina won't pass the law to allow the Hegemony to draft citizens from it? No problem! The hegemony will spend six days buying every other peso available in the market, causing its value to soar. That may sound cool to Argentina at first but quick variations in ...


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