Re: Goo prophylaxis:consensus

Mark Grant (
Wed, 3 Sep 1997 19:37:52 +0000

On Wed, 3 Sep 1997, Nicholas Bostrom wrote:

> But perhaps we reached a near
> consensus on the following non-trivial points?

Well, since you're asking...

> 1. Provided that technological research continues, nanotechnology will
> eventually be developed.


> 2. An immune system wouldn't work unless it was global.

No. In fact a global system is probably worse because it gives a single
point of failure.

> 3. In the absence of a global immune system, if everybody could make
> their own nanotech machines then all life on earth would soon become
> extinct.

No; twentieth century human life might be endangered, but we wouldn't be
twentieth century humans any more. More importantly, I just don't believe
that there are anywhere near as many world-destroying fanatics out there
as you see. If 'Basement Nukes' is to be believed, any competent group
could produce enough biological weapons to wipe out a large fraction of
a city's population for tens of thousands of dollars; so why haven't
they? And why should we imagine that building a world-destroying goo will
be any simpler?

> 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.

Not neccesarily; it depends a lot on the exact circumstances.


|Mark Grant M.A., U.L.C. EMAIL: |