The Centre for Irresponsible Nanotechnology pops up in the Indian regional press with a a look at a few nanotech catastrophies that may occur if anyone in the Drexlerian camp could ever prise themselves away from their computer long enough to actually invent a desktop nanofactory. A couple of our favourites are:

“Imagine a suitcase filled with billions of toxin-carrying flying robots that could be released anywhere to target a population. You could make a suitcase full of these things overnight for a few dollars”

“If someone could send you a product online that you don’t want but they just make it pump out of your nanofactory, how are we going to prevent that?”

Cheer up guys, let’s look on the bright side. In the last 17 years hardly any progress has been made on the Drexlerian side of nanotech, apart from a few pretty cartoons, so there may be more important things to worry about.

Comments 2

  1. Tim:

    I agree with you that Drexelerian “nanobots” are quite some time away from becoming a reality. However, the fact remains that the amalgamation of nano and bio could be either a boon, or a bane. It could deal a terrible blow to the Humanity from a weapons viewpoint. We (the U. S.) already have an issue with the detection of biological species coming into the country via the airports. If you could envision nanobioweapons, then the outlook of detection gets significantly less-than-stellar. In that context, that article to which you referred should ring alarm bells all over the world.

    I can tell you that I have personally worked on such projects (for detection and neutralization) with absolutely incredible results. However, I am certain that the same technology could be used in the opoosite direction.

    We are currently worried the most only about the spread of nuclear weapons; but these nanobioweapons surely pose a clear, present, and imminent danger to society. Look, all it takes are decent biologists and chemists to whip up a concoction of the “gray goo,” that is not only undetectable at the airports, but their results are also insidious and devastating. Can you envisage all the first-responders and medical professionals, who can become infected with the pathogens (potentially mutable and very communicable) and the diseases’ spreading rapidly by subsequent infection of others? Almost all the “developing” (and ceratinly the “developed” countries) have the requisite skills to enable this program. The apocalyptic picture is not pretty.

    What is your take on it?

  2. Well that may be true, but I think worrying about the future effects of nanobots is putting the cart before the horse. Anyone with a fairly basic knowledge of chemistry could create plenty of chaos in a confined space right now with fairly innocuous looking ingredients.

    As someone who regularly takes three or four flights a week, I would rather that more energy were expended on profiling potential attackers rather than restricting hand luggage or worrying about grey or any other kind of goo.

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