Questions about Prey won't go away, but at least it won't be coming to a theater near you any time soon.
At speaking engagements and through email, we often are asked about Michael Crichton's horror novel Prey. Is it real? Could it actually happen? Is that why we should fear nanotech?
Although it appears that plans for a film version of Prey have stalled (they've been in "pre-production" mode for over a year now), Crichton's fanciful conception of nanotechnology appears stuck in the public imagination.
Well, we're happy to report, again, that Prey is not real and that what the book presents could not actually happen. CRN's Chris Phoenix has published an extensive criticism of the novel and its "science." Read that before you take what Crichton writes as fact instead of fiction.
The biggest problem with Prey is that it focuses public concern on the wrong issues. Security risks, unstable arms races, geopolitical turmoil, and other dangers are where we should be looking.
As with "gray goo," the attention paid to an unlikely (or, in the case of Prey, impossible) threat from nanotechnology diverts attention from more serious and imminent concerns -- and this includes not only risks, but also ways to realize and maximize the potential benefits.