Having thoroughly established that I'm a confused layperson in technology areas, may I humbly request an explanation of the "active shield" concept mentioned in "Engines of Creation?"
In the areas of global security, certain dangerous widgets are guarded very closely, lest they be reverse engineered and used against friendly parties. Example, guidance systems.
Once it is known that nanomachines are in use in a particular product or person or object, what is to prevent the object from being frozen then destructively scanned by SPM/AFM for structure?
In other words, if Johnny Mnemonic has a nice nano vr system in his head, wouldn't there be many parties who wan't Johnny's head on a silver platter, to study the hardware inside?