e-book: Engines of Creation

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ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 11: The Engines of Destruction

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

Nor do I doubt if the most formidable armies ever heere upon earth is a sort of soldiers who for their smallness are not visible.
- Sir WILLIAM PERRY, on microbes, 1640

REPLICATING assemblers and thinking machines pose basic threats to people and to life on Earth. Today’s organisms have abilities far from the limits of the possible, and our machines are evolving faster than we are. Within a few decades they seem likely to surpass us. Unless we learn to live with them in safety, our future will likely be both exciting and short. We cannot hope to foresee all the problems ahead, yet by paying attention to the big, basic issues, we can perhaps foresee the greatest challenges and get some idea of how to deal with them.

ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 10: The Limits to Growth

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

The chess board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of nature.
- T. H. HUXLEY

IN THE LAST CENTURY we have developed aircraft, spacecraft, nuclear power, and computers. In the next we will develop assemblers, replicators, automated engineering, cheap spaceflight, cell repair machines, and much more. This series of breakthroughs may suggest that the technology race will advance without limit. In this view, we will break through all conceivable barriers, rushing off into the infinite unknown – but this view seems false.

ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 8: Long Life In An Open World

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

The long habit of living indisposeth us for dying.
Sir THOMAS BROWNE

CELL REPAIR MACHINES raise questions involving the value of extending human life. These are not the questions of today’s medical ethics, which commonly involve dilemmas posed by scarce, costly, and half-effective treatments. They are instead questions involving the value of long, healthy lives achieved by inexpensive means.

ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 9: A Door To The Future

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

London, April 1773.
To Jacques Dubourg.
Your observations on the causes of death, and the experiments which you propose for recalling to life those who appear to be killed by lightning, demonstrate equally your sagacity and your humanity. It appears that the doctrine of life and death in general is yet but little understood…   I wish it were possible… to invent a method of embalming drowned persons, in such a manner that they might be recalled to life at any period, however distant; for having a very ardent desire to see and observe the state of America a hundred years hence, I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country! But… in all probability, we live in a century too little advanced, and too near the infancy of science, to see such an art brought in our time to its perfection…
I am, etc.
- B. FRANKLIN.

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