Re: Nanotech..Alternate Scenario

Anders Sandberg (
Tue, 15 Jul 1997 11:16:57 +0200 (MET DST)

On Mon, 14 Jul 1997 wrote:

> Of course nanotechnology assemblers may require factory conditions. A
> replicator that can't work in the presence of oxygen or cosmic rays isn't
> going to gray goo this planet, but could be very handy in the appropriate
> factory.

Didn't Stephenson assume the assemblers only worked in a vacuum? It
is very probable that the first assemblers will need very special
environments to work well, and not unreasonable to think that the
cost of designing robust assemblers is higher than providing them
with their special environments (and as you point out, it provides a
safety measure and gives the manufacturers more control).

However, assemblers that can spread in the biosphere are possible
(existence proof: bacteria), the question is only how high the design
threshold is to make them. My guess is that there will be few
incentives at first, but plenty of research on robust nanodevices
(for e.g. medical use), and at some point it becomes possible to
combine the technologies into robust assemblers theoretically able to
spread in a goo fashion. The grey goo disaster is still unlikely (I
worry more for the golden goo and red goo problem), but it is
possible in principle.

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