February 21, 2001
- 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.