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« PCAST on NNI | Main | Growing World Consumption »

March 24, 2005


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Michael R.

maybe it would be effective to first build nanobots with the purpose to destroy other harmful nanobots that some lunatic would surely try to destroy the world with, the nanobots could be made to replicate themselves only to a certain number and therefore would not be harmful themselves

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Michael, nanobots are not, in fact, the major threat, at least not until technology develops quite a bit past the nanofactory stage. It will be much harder to make a free-range self-replicating nanobot than to make more conventional weapons in sufficient quantity and quality to create a world-class military virtually overnight.

And, non-self-rep nanobots can be much more efficient than self-rep nanobots; imagine a race car vs. a car that has to drag around its own oil refinery and mechanic's shop. With nanofactories to turn out vast quantities of efficient clean-bots, self-rep is *not* required to deal with badbots, even self-replicating badbots. I think this is true even for evolving self-replicating badbots, which will be extremly hard to design.



This is a really scary thought, that the world may come to the point of not needing human hands to work directly with the worlds resourses. If we follow through with sciencees like nanotechnology, the whole world could become man-made or somehow altered by our technologies. We need to enjoy the natural aspects of the world for what they are, not what we can change them to be. I mean, who really wants to live in a world run by machines where trees and grass become rare things?


I would think that the world would become more natural, ie. more trees, more grass, more of a return to the Earth's natural environment. After all, we would be producing more precise and more efficient materials and goods to satisfy our needs. Therefore, less of a need to exploit the environment.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Anonymous and Rip are both right. We will be able to have a far smaller ecological footprint; ten billion humans will easily be sustainable. On the other hand, it will be easy to do planet-scale engineering, and we could pave the planet in solar cells or something similarly boring and anti-ecological.

We will have more choices. It will be easier to do the right thing, and easier to do the wrong thing.

Human nature probably won't be enough. We need better decision-making systems. Democracy, free market, and free press will all be helpful. None will be enough by itself.



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