Re: Fears of nanotech

Robert J. Bradbury (
Fri, 10 Sep 1999 10:21:04 -0700 (PDT)

On Fri, 10 Sep 1999 wrote:

> << . . . Om Yo Ricio actually
> sent people out to Africa in an attempt to get Ebola samples for use as
> biological agents. >>

This isn't going to have the impact it once had, since there has been a recent discovery of a native African plant that seems to kill the bacteria.

> See also, reference: Olson, Kyle B. Aum Shinrikyo: Once and Future Threat?
> _Emerging Infectious Diseases_ Special Issue Biological Warfare. 5:513-516.
> (July/August) 1999.
> This article's purpose is to understand, not only this cult, but other
> extreme and terrorist groups potentially using biological weapons.

Thank you for providing this reference. Exploring the minds of cults/terrorists will allow us a better understanding of how to deal with them in the future.

> Nanotech attacks, similar in strategy, purpose and use by Aum and other
> cult/extremist groups will be very difficult to control without several
> anti-crime forces pushing against them, using technology I can only guess at.
It depends on the nature of the attack. The grey-goo style of attack can be physically contained, starved of energy and neutralized with high doses of radiation.

A more subtle attack of time-activated nanobot infections would have to be dealt with by your own nanoimmune system.

> What technologies can be used without hindering nanotech development and
> retaining the level of freedom, privacy, and liberty extropians desire?

I believe that open source trumps secret development of attack systems. Since many many people would have a lot to lose by being vulnerable to such attacks, I would believe that people would actively band together to provide nanodefense systems. Killing people that are enhanced through nanomedicine gets *very* difficult. You essentially have to dismantle the brain. If people have virtual backup copies that are activated upon their death, then killing them becomes pretty pointless.

> Do we develop James L. Halperin's _Truth Machine_ fool-proof lie detector
> first or concurrently?
I'm not sure that a Truth Machine buys you much. I had a lot of trouble with the concept when I read about it. With nanotech you should be able to "edit" memories at least to some degree. I would imagine nanobots sitting in the synapses, while you "recall" the information you want to hide, then they actively disrupt those paths so you can no longer remember it. They should be able to store the original synaptic settings in an inaccessible encrypted format.

Now, of course the technology works in reverse if used by the "authorities" on the terrorists. Add the thought control bots, tune them up, and it becomes impossible for the terrorist to remember he was a terrorist. *Very* scary technology however. Definately kinder and gentler than some current solutions though.

Would anyone care to comment on what motivates these groups? Clearly in some groups, they are willing to die for their cause. I don't think that in and of itself would define a condition of insanity. How "sane" are these people really? If confronted with a body of evidence that their beliefs are outmoded or incorrect, will they change their minds?

If not, then we have a very interesting problem of when is it justified to "adjust" the personal reality of an individual?

Also, worth noting is the degree to which nanosurveillance would make the organizing of such groups very difficult. Sweeping rooms for recorders is going to be difficult if the operate in record/wait/broadcast mode. A nanobot can store a lot of voice/video. It potentially gets worse since it may be difficult to know that I'm not "infected" with a nanorecorderbot without dismantling myself. I think there is a big problem that with rooms & people so much larger than the recording devices it is almost impossible to create a secure environment.

Is the solution simply to infect everyone with nanorecorderbots that the authorities can "tap" whenever a crime occurs? This seems to be only a small step away from leaving your DNA at a crime scene today.