Re: The mind-boggling nanotech future...

Robert J. Bradbury (
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 06:46:31 -0700 (PDT)

On Sat, 28 Aug 1999, Ken Clements wrote:

> If you are interested in using solar energy, there is no need to be
> limited to what you can build on some piece of land.
This was followed by a nice discussion of how to use swarm agents to generate an island of your own to solve the problem of real estate taxes that I had left hanging to some degree.

I can think of a couple of problems:
(a) You need the "rights" to the land you are going to develop

      otherwise you may need a large collection of designs for
      nanodefenses.  I'm not sure how the UN handles "claiming"
      new volcanoes at this time (or whether it has ever come up.)
  (b) Unless you allow the large scale construction of the island
      to take a very long time, you are going to have to exceed
      the 10 kg nanobot operating limit.  Now the oceans have a
      huge ability to serve as a sink for this, but warm them up
      too much and I think you destabilize the methane hydrates
      causing a rapid release that causes a huge increase in the
      greenhouse effect.  Scientists believe this may be the
      explanation behind some of the previously unexplained
      warm periods.

Which points out a general rule that I think needs to be invoked when we consider what to do with nanotech -- we must "play nicely", this could also be called: "don't piss in the sandbox if you want to play in it tomorrow".

> You may also see from this discussion that the process of transforming the
> surface of a planet like Mars is much the same. You need to get some nanotech
> seeds sent there. Once there they can grow on solar energy until they get to
> the point to be able to switch to planetary thermal energy (most scientists
> think Mars has a hot core, although probably cooler than the earth). Once the
> energy is available, there is plenty of sand on Mars from which to extract
> oxygen.

If you are going to play with Mars, it makes more sense to dismantle either Mercury or the asteroids first, turn them all into solar collectors and use most of the solar output to completely dismantle the planet. Time for Mars disassembly: 12 hours. Then turn the material into O'Neill colonies and give one to everybody.

> Cooperation among people using this will be the limiting problem.

> Also, if everyone starts making his or her own island (each intent to have
> the biggest) the thermal and displacement impacts on the oceans and global
> weather could be undesirable.


I think it would be nicer to live on some nice, moderately small vista close to your friends, while supervising the assembly of nanotech reefs that could serve a shelters for small fish to promote the repopulation of the oceans?