Re: Goo prophylaxis:consensus

Lee Daniel Crocker (
Wed, 3 Sep 1997 12:40:36 -0700 (PDT)

> 4. In the absence of ethical motives, the benefits would outweigh the
> costs for a nanotech power that chose to eliminate the competition or
> prevent it from arising, provided it had the ability to do so.

I have stayed out of this discussion until now because it is not
really my field of interest, but I think an important underlying
assumption in a lot of the discussion here is being missed. Robin
Hanson tried to get the point across at Extro 3--the assumption
that nanotech devices will be owned/controlled/created by
individual willful agents is far from given. People--even nano-
enhanced people--don't invent things; economies invent things, and
economies control them.

Compared to the kinds of self-replicating intelligent nanobeasts
we are discussing here, the computer on my desktop is very simple.
I've been working with PCs for 17 years; I've programmed individual
logic gates and soldered cables on the low-abstraction end of things;
I've normalized databases and connected CORBA objects on the high end;
and I've programmed in over a dozen languages in between. But I have
to admit that I really don't completely understand the machine I'm
typing this on, and I don't think anyone on the planet does either.
I couldn't even begin to count how many different programmers' code
is invoked between the physical act of my pressing the "A" key on my
keyboard, and spots of ink in the shape of that "A" appearing on
paper out of my printer.

My ordinary desktop computer is already an emergent effect of dozens
of hardware and software designers working on ambiguous specs,
unexpected interaction, unanticipated inputs, unreliable devices.
I feel like I control it more than I would, say, a child; but that's
just a conceit. To suppose that any one man/government/other agent
would control the first nanotech devices is assuming too much.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC