Black Goo

John K Clark (
Sun, 31 Aug 1997 14:18:58 -0700 (PDT)


"Nicholas Bostrom" <> On Sun, 31 Aug 1997 Wrote:

>A speed-up of the order you talk about would require new hardware

True, but even now the distinction between hardware and software sometimes
gets a bit blurry.

>that hardware needs to be assembled, which is a physical process
>which cannot be made arbirarily fast.

The black goo must physically move too, spread over thousands of miles if it
is to destroy all life. In that time a Nanocomputer could perform a gargantuan
number of calculations, and to the minds running on those machines the spread
of the goo would seem to move about at fast as the hour hand on your

>This means that a minute or two would not ba a "geological time"

The fastest signals in the brain move at 100 meters per second, many are much,
much, much, slower. Light moves at 300,000,000 meters per second and Nano
computers would be far smaller than neurons, further increasing the speed

>But suppose that you were right about this. Then the first power to
>get to the "singularity" [...] would only need to be a *few seconds*
>ahead of the competition to become the ruler of the universe

Yes, I think that's true, but we were talking about black goo. If the first
team that develops Nanotechnology consists of a bunch of homicidal maniacs
then we are all in deep shit, but that's not the first time something like
this has come up. If you're attacked by black goo you won't be one bit deader
than you would be if you were vaporized by an H bomb.

>I think you are vastly overestimateing the acceleration.

I'd say more but a million and one things have just popped up and I have no

John K Clark

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