Re: WAR: appropriate first use (was: If we do get Afghanistan...)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Sat Nov 24 2001 - 17:23:45 MST

On Sat, Nov 24, 2001 at 10:54:54AM -0800, Robert J. Bradbury wrote:
> Actually, I think it will be unlikely to be a problem if any
> secular democratic society acquires military nanotechnology.
> We've generally avoided the use of offensive technologies
> unless we are attacked first.

So far, democratic nations have never declared war on each other (of
course, plenty of nations *call* themselves democratic, but we are here
talking about real democracies). So it seems likely that you can trust
democratic societies with nanotechnology, at least from a weapons point
of view. Possibly thic could change if ideas about the necessity of
first strikes and pre-emptice imperialism became prevalent, but it
doesn't seem that likely.

> Now whether they would be used
> for covert operations remains an open question. If the small
> arial drown reconnaissance technology is an example, military
> nanotechnology might actually save lives since the *really* bad
> apples who promote terrorism can be surgically removed.
> Now, of course the risks become whether or not one turns those
> technologies against ones own citizens or whether they become
> tools that political parties use against one another. Those are
> cases where "first use" really threatens to open a can of worms.

I think the covert operations side is the most dangerous; internal use
has to deal with accountability and the forces of an open society - a
nanogate may be far more dangerous to a party or government than a
watergate. Unfortunately national security is a great cover for all
sorts of unaccountable dirty business. Yet another reason to work for
the spread of minimalist governments before the spread of nanotech.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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