Re: Major Technologies

Anders Sandberg (
09 Jan 1999 21:13:36 +0100

Eugene Leitl <> writes:

> Notice that blue is static, as autoreplicating blue
> would seem to be basically undistinguishable from grey. Blue is
> brittle, and more complex than grey, so it will be outperformed anyway.

I disagree. Calculations are forthcoming, but basically the blue doesn't have to be autoreplicating but could rely on a factory production such as the one scketched by Josh at the latest foresight conference; the replication rate will be extremely much higher if the blue doesn't have to autoreplicate, and one can imagine a hierarchy of immune-nodes: level 1-nodes producing lots of blue goo and throwing them around, level 2 nodes spreading level 1 nodes very quickly, and so on.

Blue can be extremely simple - antibodies comes to mind. If you can just sabotage the replication of the grey, like by sti cking their surfaces together, they will be in trouble. More complex devices, without the need of carrying around autoreplicative capability, could also finish grey goo a lot.

What to worry about is of course intelligently designed grey goo intended to do a lot of damage, but I don't buy that just randomly evolving nanites will be unstoppable. The question is rather how much damage all this is going to do in a realistic scenario.

> Funny, I think the problem is at least nondecideable with our current
> knowledge. My intuition even tells me that grey has a slight or even
> noticeable advantage, which makes it fundamentally uncontainable once
> beyond a certain autoamplification stage.

One kilogram of finely powdered virus crystals will overwhelm any human immune system. But that is not the kind of threat we usually face, and it does not emerge naturally.

In the same way a huge, diverse amount of goo is likely hard to stop, but if we can prevent such things from emerging by dealing with the small amounts of goo the nanoimmune world stands a chance. Most likely the only survivable states are a nano-free world or a world with overlapping /or bordering) immune systems of various kinds, fighting occasional skirmishes against goo outbreaks (wild guess: self-organized criticality of the size distribution).

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