HUMOR: Attack of the goo

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Sun, 18 Apr 1999 19:43:53 -0500

[My apologies. I am reposting this after having failed abjectly to keep topic discipline. I'm so terribly sorry. How about if I shave my head as a penance?]

Lyle Burkhead wrote:


> 2. The very idea of "nonbiological, free-living replicators" is absurd.
> It is possible to have replicators that use different materials and have
> different sources of energy than natural cells, but any free-living
> organism that replicates will be "biological" in a general sense.

THE SCENE: Deep in the laboratories of the Singularity Emergency Response Team.

Mitchell Porter came running in, waving an email. "Zyvex has had a little accident, and grey goo has eaten three major cities! What will we do?"

Eliezer Yudkowsky sighed, shaking his head. "I knew it. Well, so much for this planet. Another warning ignored, only to be proved right all too late." He took out a little book and added a tally mark.

"Quick, let's launch the emergency Mars evacuation vehicle!" cried den Otter. Suiting actions to words, he dashed into the one-man vehicle and took off.

"Let's use the anti-grey-goo nuclear weapons!" cried Nick Bostrum. "No, the blue goo!" "The active immune systems!" The room threatened to degenerate into chaos.

"Wait!" cried Lyle Burkhead. All conversation instantly hushed, as the room turned toward the one man who had not spoken.

"If the goo replicates..." he said slowly, his immense forehead bulging from the effort of cogitation, "IT MUST BE ALIVE! It's *biological*!"

Pandemonium ensued. Robin Hanson dashed over to the case marked "Open In Emergency Only", took the mallet, smashed the glass case, and reverently lifted out the Webster's English Dictionary. "Yes! He's right!"

"And look!" cried Anders Sandburg, pointing at the monitors. "The goo, being biological, can't eat our facility and condemn us all to horrible, agonizing deaths! We're saved!"

--          Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

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