Re: Iran pushes for nanotech

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Sun Nov 11 2001 - 06:37:28 MST

Brian Atkins wrote:
> Complaints that secret research tends to lead to unexplored avenues and
> lack of free thinking is not a sufficient reason to allow open development
> of nanotech. If the case for open development can be made that shows it
> can be done safely, then and only then will it be ok to do so. If you can't
> do it safely openly, and doing it closed makes it even worse, then the
> only answer is don't do it at all.

"Don't do it at all" - that is, advising the USgov not to pursue the
research - could easily be worse than doing it closed. Though I also
agree that doing it closed is better than doing it open... although I
*need* access to nanocomputers immediately after they're developed, and
that may be harder to get if nanocomputers are classified.

"Don't do it at all" is just not an option. Someone's going to do it. If
you can't develop nanotech safely in public, and you can't develop
nanotech safely in private, and you can't beat nanotech to the punch, then
you're dead, and that's that. The idea of not developing nanotech is an
illusory last resort. There is no resort at that point; you're gone.

> I would trust the USA government with it more than leaving it open for
> terrorists to use. I don't mind paying an extra $10 for my nanocomputer
> to be fedexed to me. What I care more about is surviving to be able to
> use it. If you feel that the USA could not be left to develop it in
> a carefully controlled fashion like they did with nukes, then perhaps
> this really is so dangerous it should just be left alone?

Not an option, I'm afraid. Look at the subject line of this thread.

-- -- -- -- --
Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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