Re: Nanotech Arms Race

Michael S. Lorrey (
Sat, 23 Jan 1999 13:20:32 -0500

Billy Brown wrote:

> Michael S. Lorrey wrote:
> > You own implicit assumption which I find weak is that there needs to be an
> AI to
> > run this system. The thing with nanotech is that you can give the little
> buggers
> > simple instructions to fulfill, and when done, die. You also assume that
> if
> > there were an AI, that it would, could, or couldn't be restricted from,
> > developing enough independence to prevent the mad plot to blast the
> planet.

> Add it all up, and you have a system that has all the intelligence of a
> human engineering & construction team. It can do pretty much anything a
> human could, but millions of times faster. It doesn't really matter how it
> works internally - it could be an algorithmic AI, a giant neural net, an
> ecosphere of evolving programs, or a mixlplic of quasitronic gimrods. From
> the outside, the effect is the same as having a lobotomized SI.

A rather large engineering team of people who can think and act for themselves invented, built and blew the atom bomb, despite numerous ethical and moral debates and qualms. I see no reason why a much more programmable set of automatons cannot do the same with less muss and fuss....even if more than a small percentage of the automatons know what the ultimate purpose of their jobs was....

> > A missing factor in these blast calculations is seismic. Get enough
> impacts
> > going at once and the shock waves will turn the entire lithosphere (the
> crust)
> > of the planet to lava. Diamonds burn just fine at such temperatures.... We
> know
> > that this is an effective strategy because the Alvarez asteroid which
> killed the
> > dinos created a shock wave that went around the planet and focused in the
> middle
> > of the Indian Ocean (where the island which is now India was at the time)
> and
> > turned the area which is now the Deccan plateau to lava.....
> >
> > I would say that 20 asteroids or comets about 20 miles in diameter
> impacting at
> > once in a dodecahedral pattern would do the trick....
> Sorry, no. That's a fantasy. It takes around 10^18 calories to melt one
> cubic kilometer of rock. Your asteroids carry about 10^21 cal apiece, so
> the whole flock could melt 20,000 cubic km - which is less than their own
> combined volume of 81,000 cubic km, and insignificant on the scale of a
> planet. In practice most of the energy gets dispersed over a large area in
> the form of flash, shock wave, flying debris, and so on, so the actual
> melting effect is even smaller.

Sorry, no. You are being hopelessly narrowminded. All that is needed is for sufficient force to crack the crust of the planet enough so that it breaks up like an ice floe. The impacts are merely catalysts. Once this is done, the crust destabilizes and becomes inundated with fresh lava, eventually subducting everything and a new crust forms. Grey goo gets gutted.

Mike Lorrey