Re: Goo prophylaxis

The Low Golden Willow (
Wed, 27 Aug 1997 21:43:58 -0700 (PDT)

On Aug 27, 11:07pm, "Nicholas Bostrom" wrote:

} What is the best upper bound on the time it would take to digest a
} given large volume of the substance?
} "A very short time." to the second (because the time should be largly
} independent on the volume, since the nanites can multiply and divide
} the labor)

One nanite generates a sphere of daughter nanites; don't they start
getting in each other's way? If you want to say they migrate, how do
they know how far to go for a given volume, or what that volume is?
(And how fast can nanites crawl, anyway?)

} The Low Golden Willow wrote:
} > As Anders said, dynamite takes energy too.
} Certainly, but the amount of chemical energy contained in a
} medium-sized forest, for example, is enormous. The cost of a few
} tonnes of TNT to a nanopower is like the cost of Mars bar

Hal's right; we are having a problem agreeing on scenarios. I don't
associate "gray goo" with "nanopower". I've been mostly assuming gray
goo is disassmblers run amok. If not, how is the source controlling and
protecting itself from the nanites? (How are the nanites not eating
themselves?) Plenty of room for perversion, here.

} > } As I said, if it covers a whole continent you can't do that.
} By getting up very early in the morning, before anyone else was
} awake. But seriously, the point is that it could happen so fast that
} nobody has time to do anything about it before its too big to be

I don't think they can spread that fast.

} > A nanite invading an organism
} > is a machine floating in an aqueous environment being glommed by
} > antibodies as well as swallowed and exposed to highly oxidizing
} > chemicals. "It's easier to destroy than create."
} That organism would itself be floating in an aqueous environment
} being glommed by nanites from all directions, unless your immune
} system were global to begin with...

How would the organism be floating in an aqueous environment? I don't
float in an aqueous environment. And if you accept immune systems
fighting nanites then you can't assume the organism is in a sea of goo,
because to make that sea the nanites would have had to eat lots of other
organisms with immune systems.

} > } But those communication lines are on the outside of your organism.
} > } You would need an immune system that extends all over the place and
} > No, you need artillery.
} Are you proposing that you are going to sit on the roof of your
} bunker and hold the nanites back with a canon?

You'd said they'd use high explosives; I said that was pretty smart for
good. You said they'd use lines of communication outside my "castle".
If they're dependent on lines of communication to attack me then
disrupting those lines with cannon is a perfectly viable stategy. No
communication, no dynamite, I'm safe.

Really though, their best bet for high explosibes is themselves. Coal
dust can make a pretty boom, due to the high surface area for the mass.

Note the different scenarios we're jumping among. Nanites trying to
invade an organism. Nanites trying to become a sea of goo without being
bombed or dusted. A sea of goo against a hardened and nano-capable
(but not global) bunker. Sometimes it's real goo; other times it's
stuff with internal communcation and solar panels, trying to make
dynamite or nukes.

Personally I'm still suspicious of this conception of nanites. Little
atomic manipulators made of a single type of material trying to be more
capable than whole slews of complex enzymes, often dependent on
different transition metals, crawling around in a vast variety of
environments, and being able to take over the world in their first
generation. They have to get energy, deliver it over distance
(otherwise my bunker need only be a dais of hematite or bauxite) and in
some scenarios, communicate, perceive, and plan against macroscopic
entities. Right.

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

Genua had once controlled the river mouth and taxed its traffic in a way that
couldn't be called piracy because it was done by the city government.
-- Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad