Re: Goo prophylaxis (was: Hanson antiproliferation method?)

Anders Sandberg (
Fri, 22 Aug 1997 00:13:33 +0200 (MET DST)

On Thu, 21 Aug 1997, Nicholas Bostrom wrote:

> If we want to use the immune system analogy, the term "active
> shield" is perhaps a little misleading. One thinks of some kind of
> spherical wall, but is what you have in mind somthing that would
> permeate the whole domain? If it's just a wall, might it not be much
> cheaper to blow a hole in it (with (nuclear?) explosives) than to
> rebuild it? Then nanites could be sent in and devastate the
> unprotected interior.

Living beings have the same problem. We surround ourselves with
impermeable walls called skin, and let the immune system permeate the
inside. If you worry about an enemy trying to blow your walls/skin
apart, then you have to take more active measures than to protect
against random grey goo, advertising nanites and opportunistic
devices trying to build distributed computing nodes out of you. If I
notice that something is building TNT out of matter in my vicinity,
I'm not going to stay around...

> (1) What if the parasites were designed instead of evolved? (Design
> is better than sex. Remember, just because we might think sex is
ROFL! :-) OK, I see what you mean, but it can be interpreted in a
hedonic way too...

> more interesting doesn't mean it's more plausible!) Perhaps the fact
> that the defence would also be designed would conterbalance this
> factor.

If you know what defenses I have, then I'm vulnerable (think of the
AIDS virus, which uses the immune system), but if I have a system
which you know fairly little about, then it is harder to design a
workable attack (hint: never let your enemy get fingernail clippings
or spittle, he can use them to bring down black magic on you!). So it
might be a good idea to design *and* evolve your defenses to make
them unique. And a good basic structure would give you time to act
("Oh shit! My immune nanites can't stop the infection. Let's call
tech support...").

> (2) What if new chemical reactions are introduced? Will complicated
> higher organisms still be viable? Exactly what properties of the
> system does this depend on? Does anybody have any idea of how to get
> a handle on this problem?

Very broadly, the question seems to be if diamondoid mechanosynthetic
or a aquaeous carbochemic biomass has the lowest chemical energy; the
biosphere would tunnel to the lowest if given a reaction pathway. I
guess diamond is the stablest, since cells cannot digest it, but it
might be too energy-intensive for nanites competing with each other
to digest too (thick diamondoid sediments on the ocean floors; in
time they will form a very fun form of "chalk").

I think complicated organisms are still quite viable, since they have
the advantage of fast cultural evolution before biological evolution.
It doesn't matter if their biology is about diamond or water.

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