Re: Iran pushes for nanotech

From: Brian Atkins (
Date: Fri Nov 09 2001 - 19:14:11 MST

Anders Sandberg wrote:
> 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.
> 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.

Quite simply, putting full blown nanotech into the hands of a single
dangerous person would make 9/11 look like a little pinprick. I think
your proposal of openly developing potential weapons of mass destruction
is utterly naive. It would be something like openly developing nukes
in a parallel universe where any matter is capable of being used as
the core. The end result would have been that everyone would have
built them, and instead of a cold war we would have had something much

What exactly is your scenario for where terrorists have drextech and
yet don't cause severe worldwide damage? A nanotech immune system?
And what happens when they come up with a worm that breaches the
defenses? Humans have already proven themselves incapable of devising
a system that would prevent such disasters.

Why fool around with such a possibility when leaving the nanotech
carefully centralized would probably still allow for 90% of the
usefulness? Do I really need a home assembler? What for?

Brian Atkins
Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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