Re: Fears of nanotech

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Sun, 29 Aug 1999 21:27:11 -0500

Clint O'Dell wrote:
> I think it is more important to respect the technology, not to fear it.

Understand, when either John K Clark or I use the word "fear", we aren't talking about unthinking instinctive revulsion. I mean, I'd probably get a serious adrenaline shot if I heard nanotechnology had been invented, but I wouldn't *panic*. At least I don't think so.

Nanopanic is a bad thing. "Blind fear gets you killed even faster than blind enthusiasm." (Yudkowsky's Threats #2.) But that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the engineering belief that it's vastly easier to build nanoweapons than shields, and the sociological belief that given human nature, people are very likely to build - and use - nanoweapons. To the extent that we can choose between futures, we want to steer away from nanotechnology - or rather, since "Attempting to suppress a technology only inflicts more damage" (Yudkowsky's Threats #3), steer towards AI or IA or some other technology that comes with a built-in conscience, even if it's not a knowably friendly one.

But we're still afraid.

           Eliezer S. Yudkowsky
Running on BeOS           Typing in Dvorak          Programming with Patterns
Voting for Libertarians   Heading for Singularity   There Is A Better Way