Oldest By Author | A-Z

The Need For Limits

March 24, 2006 by Chris Phoenix

Molecular manufacturing will give its wielders extreme power and has the potential to remove or bypass many of today’s limits, including laws. That could lead to a planet-wide dictatorship, or to any of several forms of irreversible destruction. Perhaps the biggest problem of all will be how to develop a system of near-absolute power that will not become corrupt.… read more

Molecular Manufacturing: Too Dangerous to Allow?

March 26, 2006 by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Despite the risks of molecular manufacturing, such as global ecophagy, replication is not new. Engineered self-replication technologies are already in wide commercial use and can be made inherently safe. And defenses we’ve already developed against harmful biological replicators all have analogs in the mechanical world that should provide equally effective, or even superior, defenses.… read more

Nanotechnology Dangers and Defenses

March 27, 2006 by Ray Kurzweil

To avoid dangers such as unrestrained nanobot replication, we need relinquishment at the right level and to place our highest priority on the continuing advance of defensive technologies, staying ahead of destructive technologies. An overall strategy should include a streamlined regulatory process, a global program of monitoring for unknown or evolving biological pathogens, temporary moratoriums, raising public awareness, international cooperation, software reconnaissance, and fostering values of liberty, tolerance, and respect for knowledge and diversity.… read more

Nanotech Basics

March 27, 2006 by Chris Phoenix, Mike Treder

Members of the Global Task Force of The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) have written 11 key essays addressing the profound implications of molecular manufacturing. They were published in the current issue of Nanotechnology Perceptions and are also available on KurzweilAI.net for discussion on the MindX forum.… read more

Is AI Near a Takeoff Point?

March 28, 2006 by J. Storrs Hall

Computers built by nanofactories may be millions of times more powerful than anything we have today, capable of creating world-changing AI in the coming decades. But to avoid a dystopia, the nature (and particularly intelligence) of government (a giant computer program — with guns) will have to change.… read more

Singularities and Nightmares

March 28, 2006 by David Brin

Options for a coming singularity include self-destruction of civilization, a positive singularity, a negative singularity (machines take over), and retreat into tradition. Our urgent goal: find (and avoid) failure modes, using anticipation (thought experiments) and resiliency — establishing robust systems that can deal with almost any problem as it arises.… read more

Molecular Manufacturing and 21st Century Policing

March 29, 2006 by Thomas J. Cowper

Will nanofactories foster global anarchy? Will nations devolve into a technologically-driven arms race, the winner dominating or destroying the planet with powerful molecular-manufacturing-enabled weapons? Or will the world’s Big Brothers grow larger and more tyrannical, using advanced nanotechnology to “protect” their law abiding masses through increasing surveillance, control and internal subjugation? A law-enforcement executive asks the tough questions.… read more

Nano-Guns, Nano-Germs, and Nano-Steel

March 29, 2006 by Mike Treder

Within our lifetimes, we are likely to witness battles on a scale never before seen. Powered by molecular manufacturing, near-future wars may threaten our freedom, our way of life, and even our survival. Superior military technology allowed the Spanish to conquer the Incan empire in 1532. Could today’s most powerful civilization, the United States, be just as easily conquered by a nano-enabled attacker?… read more

Globalization and Open Source Nano Economy

March 30, 2006 by Giulio Prisco

Some of the problems of today’s globalized world could be eliminated or reduced by developing operational worldwide molecular design and manufacturing capabilities. Instead of shipping physical objects, their detailed design specification in a “Molecular Description Language” (MDL) will be transmitted over a global data grid evolved from today’s Internet and then physically “printed” by “nano printers” at remote sites. This would allow communities wishing to remain independent to retain their autonomy.… read more

Cultural Dominants and Differential MNT Uptake

March 30, 2006 by Damien Broderick

The impacts of radical and disruptive technologies such as molecular nanotechnology on societies deserve serious study by economists, sociologists and anthropologists. Would civil societies degenerate almost instantly into Hobbesian micro states, where the principal currency is direct power over other humans, expressed at the worst in sadistic or careless infliction of pain and consequent brutalization of spirit in slaves and masters alike?… read more

Nanoethics and Human Enhancement

March 31, 2006 by Patrick Lin, Fritz Allhoff

Radical nanotech-based human enhancements such as bionic implants and “respirocyte” artificial red blood cells will become technologically viable in the near future, raising profound ethical issues and forcing us to rethink what it means to be human. Recent pro-enhancement arguments will need to be critically examined and strengthened if they are to be convincing.… read more

Strategic Sustainable Brain

March 31, 2006 by Natasha Vita-More

The human brain faces a challenging future. To cope with accelerating nanotech- and biotech-based developments in an increasingly complex world, compete with emerging superintelligence, and maintain its performance and sustainability as people live longer, the fragile human brain will need major enhancements: a backup system, eliminating degenerative processes, direct mind-linkup to ubiquitous computing networks, error-correction for memory, and a global Net connection with remote neural access.… read more

Empowering the Really Little Guys

April 9, 2006 by Glenn Harlan Reynolds

“Individuals are getting more and more powerful,” says author Glenn Reynolds in his insightful new book, An Army of Davids. “With the current rate of progress we’re seeing in biotechnology, nanotechnology, artificial intelligence, and other technologies, it seems likely that individuals will one day–and one day relatively soon–possess powers once thought available only to nation-states, superheroes, or gods. That sounds dramatic, but we’re already partway there”–and nanotechnology may be the “ultimate empowerer of ordinary people.”… read more

Response to ‘The Singularity Is Always Near’

May 3, 2006 by Ray Kurzweil


In “The Singularity Is Always Near,” an essay in The Technium, an online “book in progress,” author Kevin Kelly critiques arguments on exponential growth made in Ray Kurzweil’s book, The Singularity Is Near. Kurzweil responds.

Allow me to clarify the metaphor implied by the term “singularity.” The metaphor implicit in the term “singularity” as applied to future human history is not to a point of infinity, but rather to the event horizon surrounding a black hole. Densities are not infinite at the event horizon but merely large enough such that it is difficult to see past the event horizon from outside.

I say difficult rather than impossible because the Hawking radiation emitted from the event horizon is likely to be quantum entangled with events inside the black hole, so there may be ways of retrieving the information. This was the concession made recently by Hawking. However, without getting into the details of this controversy, it is fair to say that seeing past the event horizon is difficult (impossible from a classical physics perspective) because the gravity of the black hole is strong enough to prevent classical information from inside the black hole getting out.

Nanoethics and Technological Revolutions: A Precis.

May 5, 2006 by Nick Bostrom

If we believe that nanotechnology will eventually amount to a technological revolution, and if we are going to attempt nanoethics, we should consider some of the earlier technological revolutions that humanity has undergone and how our moral principles and technology impact assessment exercises would have fared.… read more

close and return to Home