Re: Iran pushes for nanotech

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Fri Nov 09 2001 - 11:18:40 MST

On Thu, Nov 08, 2001 at 06:56:53PM -0500, Brian Atkins wrote:
> Personally it would freak me out to see countries like Iran have access
> to full blown nanotech. I'd like to know what some of the proponents here
> of a world full of nanotech think, and has your opinion changed after 9/11?

There is Iran and there is Iran. Would you be scared of conservative
priests wielding nanotech or the relatively liberal government (which is
often opposed to them) wielding nanotech? (Of course, my answer is that
both are scary, I want to see *people* wield nanotech, not unaccountable
governments - and that includes the Swedish and US ones too). There is
the common US assumption that Iran is composed of Quran-thumping
Khomeini clones, but the reality is far more complex.

My favorite is the ban on satelite dishes (something that was actually
proposed 2 years earlier in Sweden!) - you can get serious punishment
for having one of those. But the government has ruled that to report
such a crime to the police, you have to pay a very expensive stamp duty.
So nobody reports it. Just one example of how the struggle between
liberalisation and conservatism is waged in Iran.

A world full of nanotech is of course a dangerous place, but so is any
world full of any tech. The issue is whether the danger is so large as
to render having nanotech less beneficial on average than not having it.
I think the answer is a clear yes to nano: it is so useful that it is
worth the risks, and I think we can handle them. Having a diverse group
of institutions researching it openly is far better than secret
manhattan projects when it comes to accountability and safety.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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