Re: LIST: the Gooies
Sun, 18 Apr 1999 08:59:05 EDT

> Lyle Burkhead said
> > The Grey Goo is an absurd fantasy, and I treated it with the levity
> it deserves.

I haven't been able to follow this thread that closely, Lyle, and just yesterday I was saying in a meeting of extropians here in Houston that I think your "Geniebusters" web site is worthwhile (if wrong in some respects -- I do think you're attacking a straw man in many instances and, yes, I've read it.) But let me offer a comment about "grey goo", nanotechnology and threats to Life the Universe and Everything.

The very specific threat discussed a long time ago in sci.nanotech that was given the name "grey goo" is but one possible harmful use of molecular-scale technology and I express no judgment about its plausibility here. However, I have been convinced by some pretty rigorous reasoning, explained by some pretty smart people, that one does NOT need to make a "genie machine" or even a "general-purpose assembler" to cause Very Bad Things to happen with molecular scale technology. In fact, I'm so convinced of this that I think it's irresponsible to discuss the details of such ideas in an open, public forum. Suffice it to say, Lyle, that a technology capable of causing severe destruction on a scale up to and including the level of a planetary ecology can be created with molecular technology well short of a general-purpose assembler. Here's a hint: consider the kind of havoc that computer virii can cause, even though we're nowhere close to "general-purpose artificial intelligence"; all that's required is the capacity for self-replication.

	Greg Burch     <>----<>
     Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 
                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                      -- Thomas Huxley