nanotech risks (was Re: About discussing Social Impact etc.)

From: Phillip Huggan (
Date: Tue Feb 07 2006 - 16:56:06 MST

Many of the nanotechnology techonlogy product risks in the near-term can be more accurately terms bio and chemical threats. There are also nanotech solutions to some societal rasks such including rapid disease diagnosis and virii sensors. Almost all alternative energy tech utilizes nanotech to some degree. Some nanoparticles may turn out in hindsight to carry healthrisks.
  Molecular computers might permit easier weaponry and other dangerous technologies prototyping. All of the above is grasped by some in government.
  Nanotechnology and risks in the same sentence is often an allusion to a greater much more sinister class of risks: A type of von Neumann replicator composed of diamond and possessing an easily scalable manufacturing base. The simplest actions a baddie with such technology could take would probably be to use the technology to build a truly massive military arsenal. Diamonds seem versatile enough to effect this (possibly in tandem with some CNT help).
  But for instance, a single deposition of a carbon dimer has not been attempted in a lab yet. And our only present tool to do so are SPMs. I think to build a copy of your SPM utilizing this process might take longer than is a human lifetime. Diamond surfaces tend to reconstruct, so the technology might be too coarse and chunky to scale some necessary components such as power systems. But there is a LOT of money being dumped into enabling nanotechnologies now and this figure will only increase. The diamond risks aren't too different than are existing WMD risks. Unfortunately these risks are compressed into a very short timeframe in a MNT arms race and any potential MNT conflict. Our leaders (and CEOs) aren't exactly known for crisis management under the gun.

Richard Loosemore <> wrote:
  <SNIP> I say this because I am very interested in the way that things will play
out, and with ways to approach the threats the world faces between now
and then, but in the past I have watched these discussions go by without
volunteering any thoughts, for the simple reason that they do seem to go
straight from sanity to politically charged insanity?

For example, one issue of great importance is the way that the
Nanotechnology idea started out with similar transformative vision, but
has since become co-opted by corporate interests in such a way as to
neuter some of the real nanotech goals? Here we have something very
important, but it is by its nature very political. <SNIP>

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