Re: Criticism depth, was Re: Homework, Nuke, etc..

From: Michael M. Butler (
Date: Thu Jan 11 2001 - 06:35:51 MST

Look, you keep talking like this thing was supposed to be the final word
on the subject. I don't think it is. I think it's the proverbial stake
in the ground.

The question of just how far ahead a crazy bad guy could get, compared
to sane people also working on nt, is a crucial one. You have put your
finger on a fertile area for study. I am not sure what the probability
distributions are, and I am not sure how to figure them.

If you take a gander at,
you'll find a link to "Foresight Guidelines on Molecular Nanotechnology
/ Original Version 1.0: February 21, 1999 / Revised Draft Version 3.7:
June 4, 2000 / Foresight Institute and IMM. Do not publish draft
without permission." Check out the Preamble, Para 1, last 3 sentences,
and Para 5. These people are taking the issue seriously, too.

OK, suppose the probability distribution includes a possible lump of
people following the guidelines. Let's imagine there are fifty research
teams worldwide working just on replicators. Let's assume there is one
ultrabad (either malevolent or shortsighted) ultrabrilliant opponent.
Game it out. Now change the numbers. Twenty teams, two Evil Geniuses. Do
it again with ten teams, three E. G.s.

At some point in there, trouble happens. Now run the numbers the other
way. What if there are no people using the guidelines, and a thousand
research teams all working on replicators that can survive in the wild?
Bad, no?

Being able to respond to an E. G. means being pretty much as up to speed
as he is. Lollygagging is not an option for the good guys, it seems.
This does not mean that the good guys have to build replicators that can
go feral, any more than CERT has to disseminate computer viruses.

John Marlow wrote:
> Yeah. Obviously Drexler at least was thinking about
> such things very early--as witness his "active
> shields" riff. (Do NOT get me started on THAT one...)
> Re: date--'tis why I said apparently and mentioned
> c-date.
> Re: Terminology criticism--am working on a critique of
> considerably more "depth" than the above.
> ;)
> Publication? Funny you should mention that; I'm a
> journalist. (published in Omni, Parade, etc. Once
> interviewed Crick on neural nets and human vision, but
> the mag--Omni--went under before printing it.)
> As should be obvious from previous posts, nuclear
> physics is not my strongest area.
> :)
> Q: Just what forum would you recommend for a response
> to something with a title like this thing, anyway..? I
> gotta tell you, Freitas' nanomedicine is
> impressive--but this paper is full of holes. Practical
> holes, not scientific.
> john marlow
> --- "Michael M. Butler" <> wrote:
> > John Marlow wrote:
> > > Yah. I find it interesting that the thing
> > apparently
> > > (going by c-date) wasn't written until April 2000.
> > It
> > > takes Joy screaming the sky is falling to get them
> > to
> > > think about this? Or just to make it public?
> >
> > It shouldn't take more than a few minutes of
> > reflection to realize that
> > a copyright date only refers to publication. I have
> > no idea how long
> > Robert was cooking this up. Why don't you ask him?
> > Some people take
> > decades before they publish. It all depends.
> >
> > My guess is that Mr. Joy's media attention certainly
> > had some effect on
> > completion and publication.
> >
> > > You want criticisms? I'll give you two:
> > "Ecophagy."
> > > "Biovorous."
> >
> > OK, so you don't like Freitas having a penchant for
> > neologisms. Hardly a
> > fundamental flaw in the work, it seems to me. The
> > title was already
> > really long.
> >
> > The issue of what countermeasures would work after
> > notice of the problem
> > is definitely worth further exploration. Why don't
> > you work up something
> > for publication?
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