Re: Nanoimmune systems

Anders Sandberg (
Sun, 2 Feb 1997 20:33:34 +0100 (MET)

On Thu, 30 Jan 1997, The Low Willow wrote:

> On Jan 30, 11:43pm, "Max M" wrote:
> } > From: The Low Willow
> } > For defense against bio and nano immune systems probably are the best
> } > way to go. Best would be mutable systems that could be changed to small
> } > or large degrees.
> }
> } Freely self replicating mutating nanomachines? sounds like a shure way to
> } Gray Goo.
> Systems can be mutable without changing the components much. And where
> did I say 'freely'? Each person could change their own immune system,
> certainly. Not the same.

A reasonable immune system would consist of "bone marrow units" that
produce immune nanites ("blue goo") and distributes them, and "lymph
units" that integrate their information. The "bone marrow" would mutate
and evolve new kinds of immune nanites as needed (controlled by
information from the "lymph units"; <Nanite species 67267247 only 3%
effective against antigen 47902444, Nanite species 67267448 78% effective;
increase production of 67267448 and try mutating it>).

> Anyway, I'm not particularly scare of gray goo. Possibly some
> unrestricted disassembler could chomp the biosphere, but I don't take
> even that as given. And if we have nanimmune systems of our own, I see
> no reason to believe one species could take over the nanosphere any more
> than one species has taken over the biosphere. (Besides us, but we're
> intelligent.)

What worries me is that it is not unreasonable to build a nanite that
converts organic compounds into diamondoid, but normal life cannot convert
diamondoid into organics (I think; there might be some bacterium who does
this). This means that over time unchecked nanite spread *could* lock
Earth into a diamondoid ecology instead. Waves of grey goo eating the
Earth are unlikely, but a "golden goo" disaster where some nanite
accidentally upsets biology on a large scale is possible (like a cell
medical nanite that starts hunting *all* bacteria and replicates in
nature). That is why we need to have immune systems that are flexible and
general *before* the nanites get loose in the biosphere (eventually, they
will). Its main use might not be to defend against attacks from enemies
but to remove nonfunctional nanites (<Remove species 3476347>).

> } into the design software for nanotech. Perhaps make shure that the software
> } wouldn't build any kind of assembler that could exist in oxygen.
> Not exist in oxygen? That probably isn't hard. Tiny, energetic, carbon
> particles. Yumm.

Actually, making a nanite that could thrive in nature would be tricky.
UV, oxygen, a very non-standard environment and possibly competition from

Anders Sandberg Towards Ascension!
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