Re: Major Technologies

Anders Sandberg (
11 Jan 1999 13:25:31 +0100

"Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <> writes:

> Anders Sandberg wrote:
> >
> > But there will be a second group
> > doing the breakthrough fairly soon (helped by the knowledge that it is
> > possible and the hints they will get by looking at the first group),
> > and soon there will be many others with the same capabilities. Here
> > comes the assumption Eli and others seem to make, that the first group
> > will try to monopolize the technology totally.
> I explicitly said otherwise. I said that the naive people at Foresight
> will publish their breakthroughs and that someone else will try to
> monopolize the technology totally. Does the US embargo prevent Saddam
> from visiting Foresight's Web site?

OK. But monopolizing something that a lot of others may have also downloaded is quite tricky. Just look at the Scientologists hunting the Fishman papers - if their beliefs were actually true and they had the aid of thetan powers, would they still be able to keep the lid on?

> The term "naive" is strong. I began using this term when, during a
> debate on red goo vs. blue goo, I pointed out nobody had proposed any
> sort of active shield that would stand up to nuclear weapons, and
> someone said, quote, "That's not fair." Fair? Whoa. "I never thought
> of that", says the Universe, and everyone comes back to life. I suppose
> that dropping 20 megatons on an undefended city is fair. Fact is,
> offensive technology is running far enough ahead of defensive technology
> to blast civilization right now, fair or unfair, and I think the problem
> will only get worse. An honest assertion that active shields can stand
> up to fusion weapons is one thing. Pretending that nobody will try to
> use nanotech for military attack and world domination is naive.

I think the problem is that you move the problem from a question about how to counteract hostile nanosystems to a problem of counteracting anything your enemy might throw at you. That is a bit like asking that the security systems of an elevator should work against somebody blowing up the building.

The important thing is to do a threat analysis, and try to see what countermeasures (including the 36th stratagem, running away) are useful in a hostile situation. But to do that you ned to understand the different kinds of threats and the available countermeasures well, and not claim that countermeasures against A are useless because they do not work against weapon B. An active shield is useless against a nuclear explosion, but a nuclear weapon is useless if you don't know where to aim it or the political repercussions on you will be more severe than you can handle. What is needed is a better understanding of the threat matrix of weapons and countermeasures; where are the big holes, where are one side at a noticeable advantage, and what strategies can both sides take to maximize their utility.

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