RE: NANO: Institutional Safety
Tue, 16 Nov 1999 11:29:36 -0800

Billy Brown, <>, writes:
> There are several unfortunate trends here. The first is that the
> survivability of military forces tends to increase over time, because
> burying yourself under a mountain is easier than moving one. As a result
> the chance of nuclear weapons being used actually increases, which is a
> shame because the environment and civilian population on the surface are
> still very fragile targets.

I thought it was generally agreed that survivability was a stabilizing trait, not a destabilizing one. It means that a first strike will only invite a retaliatory attack which you cannot defend against. It keeps you in a position of mutually assured destruction. From this situation it is possible to negotiate downwards to a wary and watchful peace, which is close to what we have today.

The danger is when the opposite happens, when survivability is lost due to some breakthrough which makes the first strike effective. Then if both sides achieve this state it is completely unstable, as the one which attacks first will survive and the one which does not will be destroyed.

If nanotech really does increase survivability more than first strike killing power then that would be very good news for the prospects of peace in the future.