Re: Nanotech Arms Race

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Thu, 21 Jan 1999 19:49:11 -0600

Billy Brown wrote:
> Now, all of this is not to say that it can't be done. It just can't be done
> by diffuse, nearly-undetectable swarms of nanobots. You need macro-scale
> machines for a lot of essential roles, and macro-scale machinery is hard to
> hide.

To blow up a planet? Okay, I'll accept that. But what about bootstrapping? I waft in a dust particle from space, a few nanobots onto the surface of the ocean; they build more nanobots and drop to the bottom; then they reproduce a few times and build a few bombs. As for power, nanobots float to the top, absorb solar radiation, sink back down. If that's necessary at all, of which I'm not convinced.

As for hiding the macro-scale machinery you say I'll need at some point, I'll bet I can give it the same visual, radar, sonar, etc. characteristics as rock.

One thing is for sure; if you want an active defense against that, you'd better be prepared to sterilize the oceans.

(This is pretty much academic; by this point in 'tech any sane person is far, far away from the Earth or any other mass not under vis control, and has a laser diligently vaporizing stray hydrogen atoms.)

--         Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

Disclaimer:  Unless otherwise specified, I'm not telling you
everything I think I know.