Re: Goo prophylaxis

Nicholas Bostrom (
Wed, 27 Aug 1997 11:37:13 +0000

The Low Golden Willow:

> On Aug 26, 12:25pm, "Nicholas Bostrom" wrote:
> } Anders Sandberg writes:
> }> isotope it was). There is around 2 grams uranium / tonne in the crust of the
> } > earth, of which 0.72% is U235, so to get 10 kg you need to process around
> } > 7000 tonnes of crust. I'm not sure how much energy is required to reduce
> } > the UO2 to pure U, but it is a noticeable amount (are there a chemist
> } Even so, the nanites could cover continents with construction sites
> } so you couldn't bomd them all out. Dynamite should be much easier and
> } serve just as well.
> What the hell are these nanites living on?!

Sun or chemical binding energy, for example.

>Their very life requires
> energy, not to mention, as Anders noted, the cost of trying to
> concentrate extremely diffuse and oxygen-bonded uranium.

Use dynamite then. But energy wouldn't be a problem.

> Solar
> collection will take lots of area, be noticeable, and be exposed. Shade
> it, dust it, bomb it.

As I said, if it covers a whole continent you can't do that.

> And they're not living off of rock. It's hard to get lower energy
> states than found in a lot of rock without using nuclear processes.
> That's why aluminum mining is so expensive.

With nanotech, we might be able to catalyse arbitrary prosesses and
gain energy, as long as there is a net increase in chemical binding

> I challenge this "lower division" assumption. Antibodies can't gum up
> the works of nanites; phagocytic cells can't enclose and dissolve them?
> Hydrogren peroxide and free radicals are popular weapons. Oxidizing
> chemicals vs. small pieces of pure carbon; I bet on the white blood cell.

Of course, nanomachines can do everything biological cells can, since
these are a special kind of nanomachines; but they will be able to do
much more since they can be use all parts of design space, not only
that little corner that was available to evolution.

> And is the energy state of diamondoid material higher than that of
> organic material? Probably, in which case this gray goo plague needs
> constant input or can only grow by processing lots of material -- which
> means that it grows very slowly.

No, in that case the grey plague would not turn everything into
diamonid material but into something in a lower energy state than
organic material (which is in a very high energy state: that's
part of the reason why we eat beef and carrots instead of stones).

> } Well, if the organism is in a free environment, then the plague would
> } attack all parts of the skin simultaneously. The whole skin would
> } thus have to be shed. The plague would immediately attack again, and
> Wait, diamond nanites are attacking diamond skin? If there's so much
> energy for the plague to live on, obviously your outer defense shouldn't
> be a hard shell, it should be a friendly counter-plague, like the
> friendly flora living on our mucous membranes.

Yes, but even that would not save you long. You would run out of
resourses. The only way is to go out there and conquer the world
before anyone else does it.

> } soon the organism would run out of resources. Alternatively, the
> } plague could build explosives and blast your organism. So it seems
> Damn complex plague, building explosives in a coordinated manner. You
> sure it doesn't have internal communiation lines that can be attacked?

But those communication lines are on the outside of your organism.
You would need an immune system that extends all over the place and
that does not allow any significant competition to arise anywhere.
That's what I'm saying. Your castle is not safe.
Nicholas Bostrom