Re: EngYog-Sothoth for Fun nanotech

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Thu Jul 26 2001 - 00:51:34 MDT

On Wed, Jul 25, 2001 at 11:32:12PM -0400, wrote:
> Interesting, not necessarily a bad idea. I think the fear of "more rapid
> evolution' in bacteria lead to fears such as antibiotic resistance. But think
> more abstractly, in general are we not usually interested in evolution and
> more/faster of it?

Well, evolution for its own sake might not be that desirable (although
it is a wonderfully creative process). I would rather say we are
striving for more complexity than more evolution.

Hmm, it might be interesting to see if we could iuse the same trick
suggested for nanomachines to prevent evolution in GM bacteria: add
extra DNA repair (which will both prevent mutations and be metabolically
costly), and possibly make some of the potentially dangerous genes
brittle in the sense that any mutation there will disable the cell (how
to to achieve that?).

> These new organisms will be dependent totally on the supply of the synthetic
> amino acid to produce its proteins. I think this has been proposed before
> as a control mechanism for nanotech, Drexler most likley.

Yes. But I'm not certain the proposed amino acids are entirely
non-natural; beside the usual 22 amino acids quite a few make fleeting
appearances in biochemistry and I wouldn't want to bet that for a given
simple organic molecule there is *no* metabolic pathway in the biosphere
that produces it. If bacteria can survive on toulene as their sole
carbon source, then they can likely evolve to make any necessary amino
acid. The trick is to make them unable to evolve this, and make sure
they can't find a source in the environment (Linda Nagata did a nice
trick in her _Limit of Vision_ to show how you could get around such a
metabolic constraint on a GMO both short term and long term).

I think one has to base the metabolic key on something more tricky to
manufacture in cells.

> But I think the technology is an alternative to Drexlers 'assembler' based
> scheme. If we succeed with 'BlueGene' like stuff, and can model and control
> protein folding, then designer proteins is translated into custom proteins
> with many possible new properties available. The NYT article mentioned a
> 'teflon' like protein. I envision mas production of billions of nano
> components for nano-electronics, nano-computing or optics.

Bio-nanotech has a great potential, and already a multiquadrillion cell
production base. It might not have the wide potential of hard drextech,
but it is a likely candidate for both early investment and bootstrapping
more advanced forms of nanotech.

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

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