Re: NANO: Institutional Safety
Sun, 14 Nov 1999 13:03:27 EST

In a message dated 11/14/99 7:52:41 AM Pacific Standard Time, writes:

> 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.

Unfortunately, the regime has never been tested as it has since turned out that our engineered organisms do poorly in the wild. We probably *could* design invaders if we wanted to but the traits we want actually seem to harm the organisms in the wild. Added to the fact that most successful invaders don't cause serious problems for humans anyway, the chance of a catastrophe was always small, so we don't know how much good the safeguards did us.

Deliberate bio- or nanowarfare might be a different story, but that's not under discussion here.

>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

As I pointed out, we have little info on whether such measures can even forestall a nanotech disaster.