Astro/Nano: Stargate & Grey Goo

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun Sep 09 2001 - 00:55:51 MDT

Well, its finally happened, though perhaps fortunately on a show
that not many average people watch. The central feature of the
Stargate episode tonight (Nemesis) was the grey goo scenario.
The TV Guide listing doesn't seem to match the Showtime listing
of "current" shows, so it is probably a repeat.

Spoilers may follow....

Plot summary -- Asgaard ship (the good guys from a foreign
galaxy who have preveiously assisted the Earthlings in dealing
with the evil species running around our galaxy) shows up above
Earth and beams up Captian O'Neill who finds out he is now on
a ship with a dying alien and an infestation of "replicators"
(roughly 6-inch mechanical spiders). The Asgaard galaxy is
apparently being overrun by them, due to their thought that
their technology was better than anything they might bring
back on their ships for study.

The "replicators" are slowly eating the ship and will
decend upon the Earth once there are enough of them.
Plans are developed to cause a failure during reentry
to melt the ship and with it the nasty swarm. Problems are
encountered, fights between the SG1 team and the "replicators"
ensue. But as fast as you blast one of the little spiders
to bits, they reassemble themselves. The SG1 team manages
to escape through the ship's stargate (maybe) but one
of the "replicators" manages to survive the uncontrolled
reentry. (To be continued).

Even I, as much as I like nanotech, found myself being
a little worried about the problems it seemed to raise.
It points out however, a potential flaw in the friendly
AI scenario. Even if humans become this nice benevolent
race, cared for by this friendly SysOp who make sure that
nobody within the system can do harmful things to the system,
that doesn't prevent someone from outside the system from
inventing the mindless entity that has no moral system
and whose sole purpose of being is to "replicate".
The most telling point the alien made was that they had
never found the inventors of the "replicators", presumably
because they themselves had been consumed.

Does a relatively endless supply of creative mistakes doom
selected and evolved intelligence?


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