NANO: Institutional Safety
Sun, 14 Nov 1999 10:51:25 EST

In a message dated 99-11-13 09:48:56 EST, (David Blenkinsop) wrote:

> Finally, now that I've mentioned security related matters, are there any

> really bright ideas for lessening possible dangers of nanotech, short of
> running far, far away, that is? Someone is going to tell me that AI's
> will take over and take care of it all, I'm sure, but I'm really more
> interested in whether organizations of relatively ordinary humans could
> somehow deal with this competently?

A small group of folks associated with Foresight got together and talked about this question in February of this year. We produced a short paper, which ought to be published soon - so said Ralph Merkle last night. The best suggestion we could come up with was to try to emulate the process that occurred with genetic technology in the 1970s, where a regime of self-regulation developed and was slowly adopted into regulatory law. In short, the group suggested prescriptions of release of freely autonomous replicators into the environment and some technical safeguards against mutation.

The group was not optimistic that these measures could completely and reliably prevent a nanotech disaster. The best hope was that one could be forestalled until defensive technologies caught up with and surpassed offensive ones (which the technologists believed would precede effective countermeasures - thus creating a "zone of danger" of indeterminate length).

     Greg Burch     <>----<>
      Attorney  :::  Vice President, Extropy Institute  :::  Wilderness Guide   -or-
                         "Civilization is protest against nature; 
                  progress requires us to take control of evolution."
                                           Thomas Huxley