Nanotech promotion and post-government feasibility

Robert J. Bradbury (
Sat, 4 Sep 1999 06:33:20 -0700 (PDT)

I've been thinking about the situation in Russia, especially

Given these things, I've been considering writing some pieces for the Moscow Times (one of the major English language papers in Russia) about gene-tech, extended longevity, nano-tech, Extropian/transhumanis ideas, etc. hoping that they might spread to the Russian papers.

The reasons to do this might include:

However, this is a very tricky thing to do and could put me on the bad side of some very nasty people. In reviewing the discussions by den Otter, Eliezer, et. al., it seems evident that the things I need to make clear in any such articles, seem to be poorly understood even in this group.

So I want to float some ideas.

We still seem to a large degree to focus discussions on concepts that I suspect will be irrelevant. If we assume that: (a) nanotech makes the Bill Gates lifestyle possible. (b) Since there are many places (Australia, U.S., Canada,

      oceans, etc.) that have much more land/surface area than is
      required to provide power for their population, it would
      seem that during the nanotech-transition that these "free"
      areas could be opened to settlement from overcrowded 
      countries or those with oppressive governments.
  (c) So we should see a migration to the places that provide
      the freedom level that individuals prefer.

Now, this implies that governments now have to either: (a) imprison their citizens; or (b) compete with each other to provide maximal freedom. Assuming (a) doesn't occur, I presume that this stabilizes around some "maximally" free point where some societies allow you to do self-destructive things (thrill seeking recreational activities) and some discourage it. Since everyone is aware of the dangers of nanotech, everyone actively participates in verification and self-policing of the designs. Since everyone is virtually wealthy, you don't need to pay any bureaucrats, run subsidized programs, worry about retirement funds, etc. etc. Because of the wealth & migration possibilities, war seems obsolete. The risk-benefit tradeoff seems completely unjustifiable. It seems the role of government gets very small.

And yet we seem to focus huge amounts of conversation on what governments will or will not do. We don't seem to be able to climb out of the current system enough to see what the new system will look like. And if I can't communicate that then the articles are unlikely to have the impact I want.

Some people seem to have a fair amount of fear that nanotech is a bad thing and if so, the promotion of a U.S.-Russia nanotech race would not be good. But if it were combined with the perspective that such a race could not be "won" for long (as with the nuclear race) and that winning such a race would essentially make governments obsolete then it would appear that governments have the most to fear from nanotech. I'm assuming here that winning the race does not allow you to turn the other country into grey-goo because the other side anticipates this and has nano-tech stopping radiation sources available. This goes back to my extensive discussion that SI "wars" shouldn't occur, because you have to guarantee that you wipe out every last spec of nanotech belonging to the opposing side.