I don't think there is any economic significance. They found a closed-form formula, not a manufacturing process. They verified that it produces numerically correct results to 12 significant figures, but typical lens grinding is only accurate to about 100 nm; if your lens is 10 mm thick, that's an error in the 5th significant figure of any coordinate. Calculating a numerical solution to the Wasserman–Wolf problem to 5 significant figures is straightforward, and you could probably do it by hand if you didn't have a computer (although that would involve significant economic cost). In fact, it's not that hard to calculate it to 14 significant figures. The achievement is finding a closed-form solution rather than an iterative numerical approximation.
† Or Tutankhaten, as we used to call him.
The most hacker news comment I read all year
 beautifully rendered as a short comic here https://zenpencils.com/comic/king/
Can you do economics without math?
As for friends, family, and community, what is it that gives friendship value, if not your conscious experience of the friendship, and your friend's? Could you coherently call something a good friendship if neither friend enjoys it or improves their thinking from it? The same questions generalize to family and community, though in more complex ways.
The Greeks used the word eudaimonia for this highest / all-encompassing utility function (the experience that everything is in service of: the “point”); in Indian thought it's called ānanda. But yeah, making money is only a means to it, and not the point. (Even this understanding can get clouded. In Indian thought, “religion” only posits a higher ānanda that can be obtained by experience of the divine, without denying the everyday sorts of joy that resemble it. In Western thought, influenced by the monotheistic religions with their opposition between true and false, the fact that neither money nor comfort is the highest good gets reflected in ideas like “money is the root of all evil” or “Happiness versus Meaning” that tend to vilify them in order to counter our impulses towards them, rather than recognize them as being partial means to some components of happiness. It's fine; whatever works I guess.)
PS: Totally offtopic, but thanks for your transcript of Knuth's Web of Stories interview!
Is there a way of unconsciously experiencing these things?
Extend this to asteroid tracking and it may be the difference between human survival and extinction.
I am fond of the humans and so I would like them to survive, but only because that is a means for them to be conscious, at least in some cases.
Thus if photography is required and the only thing that makes it possible then it as a means becomes and end to it's self.
Consider, in a pure nitrogen environment animals will suffocate under no great distress. The goal has become separated from the result.
PS: As to your final central point, some feel keeping a loved one alive even if they never recover consciousness is a net good.
> † Or Tutankhaten, as we used to call him.
This is a rare case where the name change is original to the foreign subject. Akhenaten, the heretic Pharaoh, threw out the traditional religion of Egypt and replaced it with monotheistic worship of the aten, the sun-disc. This didn't go over well -- after Akhenaten died, the traditional system reestablished itself, various records were "corrected", and Tutankhaten's name was changed, during his own lifetime, to something more traditional. Unlike his father, Tutankhamen didn't have the political power to maintain the heresy.
Well yes, life continuity is not something to subestimate. Thinking derives from perceiving and acting in the world. I agree that the achievement was finding the _closed-form solution_. But it will have a beautiful impact in wealth creation, now and in the future, no doubt. Can't be seen now and who knows when and to what extent this could disrupt optics for the better. Maybe not too much or maybe four decades from now this make possible to start using devices that we can't recognize now.
Holodeck, yeah I'm watching you!
With respect to this solution, I bet it will be great for astronomy, especially superpowered space telescopes that need to squeeze every bit of accuracy out of their projected lifetime. They might also improve optical telescopes but I'm not sure how much there is to improve before running into physical limits. I can't think of any other big impacts off the top of my head, but I bet there are others.
Not sure how much of an economic impact this result will ultimately have, and I agree that that's missing the point here, but in general I think asking about the potential economic impact of scientific/technological advances is a prudent line of questioning.
A single image also won't technically contain enough information to even allow you to reconstruct the image, but with sparse reconstruction you might be able to get it done.
In fact I'm fairly sure people have tried to do exactly that, and phone manufacturers seem pretty willing to throw software at the problem as well, although the latter don't really care much for the method as long as it looks nice.
I get that your comments are playful, at least in part, but the thing that makes discoveries worthwhile is usually getting them in the hands of mere mortals.
The economy is an important part of society, but only part of it.
It's still incredibly cool that there are solvable problems of this sort still put there.
The point of consciousness absolutely is to make money - or rather, to improve the organism's efficiency and thereby survivability by making it capable of introspection and self-optimisation.
An individual human consciousness, its genes, and its memes have different goals which sometimes come into conflict. I suggest you choose sides in these conflicts, and not against yourself.