Re: NANO: Directive of Evacuation

Hal Finney (
Fri, 29 Aug 1997 09:40:25 -0700

Nicholas Bostrom:

> Anders Sandberg
> > if nanotech is developed, it will first be fairly
> > limited and mainly used in labs by people in white coats. Then its products
> > will be marketed and sold, and eventually every home will have its own
> > assembler-tank.
> Without a 100% reliable *global* immune system that will be
> equivalent to giving everyone access to the launch buttons for the
> world's total nuclear arsenal, as Eliezer said. Collective suicide.

Actually, way back in Engines, Drexler recommended that these be *limited*
assemblers. The kitchen "build anything machine" would be restricted to
building items from a catalog. New designs would be carefully reviewed
before being added to the approved list.

The biggest problem with this scheme seems to be preventing someone from
getting access to unrestricted nanotech via some means. Either they find
a way to subvert their limited assembler, or they do it the old-fashioned
way, via biotech or STMs or self-assembling chemicals, etc. Or, more
disturbingly, members of the original group which developed nanotech may
have retained access to the technology in its most powerful form, "just in

If there are several different groups pursuing the development of nanotech,
then it would be even more likely that we would end up with many groups
with access to full nanotech. Sci-fi ideas like having the first nanotech
group create a plague which seeks out and destroys all the other research
don't seem plausible.

So in this scenario there are a few groups with full nanotech, which
hopefully they use responsibly (or not at all). Everybody else has
access to limited assemblers, which create the kinds of improved products
we associate with nanotech, but don't let them destroy the world.