Re: Major Technologies

Anders Sandberg (
09 Jan 1999 21:05:28 +0100

Eugene Leitl <> writes:

> The idea of a military autoreplicator is to autoamplify by converting
> organics. Anything else is just distracting bells & whistles. Whatever
> is needed, will be invented by the evolution along the way.

If I was a military planner, I wouldn't trust evolution one bit. If it evolves to penetrate any defense, can't it evolve to penetrate *our* defense? A weapon is only useful if you can threaten *others* with it, not if you will be destroyed by it yourself (the exception is doomsday devices, which work by making everybody very keen on their non-use).

So the threat isn't by rational military red goo (which might still be quite nasty) but other sources.

> > and solar power for energy supply, so its growth rate can't be too much
> Photovoltaics means about 1 kW/m^2 peak, and there are a lot of these
> m^2 out there. However, the color of the goo is grey, not green.

The problem is protection against UV; you need some kind of protective shielding or the units will break too often. Perhaps a layer of photovoltaics on top of the real goo? Termite goo.

> > faster than ordinary microorganisms. A defensive system can mass-produce
> > nanobots in industrial fabricators running off the electrical power grid.
> And what does electrical power grid run on? Magical fairy-dust?
> Where is reconaissance, planning, production, transportation,
> deployment, action analysis, all in an co-evolutionary scenario?

Actually, this is also where the defenders have an advantage. Goo doesn't just randomly appear (unless you really believe in the sudden breakthrough scenario), there is a period before you meet the goo you can plan (even without nanotech). A good defensive structure would have the above abilities, but it is not clear that even autoevolving goo would be able to do it (the fitness landscape has some pretty wide deserts in this area where intelligent pre-planning can jump ahead a lot; the goo will not be very good at planning, or the brainy nanites will have a too low replication rate to be big threats).

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