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unkcheetah
June 12th, 2006, 11:17 AM
The National Science Foundation earlier this year announced that nanotechnology will be a $1 trillion market by 2015. This growth rate dwarfs the internet boom of the nineties and early 2000. With no end in sight, this technology will affect literally all other industries by the end of the next decade. Considering that MNT (molecular nanotechnology) will have such wide-ranging consequences on every aspect of the global economy there are a few scientist that have become seriously concerned that the technology, having such potential, could be a desirable technology for would be criminals and terrorists. Not to mention maniacal despots bent of destroying civilization, as we know it. Nano-factories, once constructed can easily be replicated and hidden within very small areas making detection virtually impossible.

Imagine the aspect of national security when considering this technology. How can a nation defend itself against molecular sized bio-weapons that can selectively infect billions of people when the weapon can be concealed in a container the size of a suitcase?

I guess the question is, do we take this very realistic possibility into account when we consider all the despotic and criminal/terrorist activity the world over? Do we deal with the problem now or do we wait until the technology has proven itself to be lethal?

In my opinion, this is one of the reasons I can justify toppling governments that have unstable fascist and oppressive leaders.


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Criminals and terrorists with stronger, more powerful, and much more compact devices could do serious damage to society. Defenses against these devices may not be installed immediately or comprehensively. Terrorists could have a field day. Chemical and biological weapons could become much more deadly and much easier to conceal. Many other types of terrifying devices are possible, including several varieties of remote assassination weapons that would be difficult to detect or avoid. If such devices were available from a black market or a home factory, it would be quite difficult to detect them before they were used; a random search capable of spotting them would be a clear violation of current human rights standards in most civilized countries. Detecting a criminal user after the fact might also be difficult; since many devices can be computer-controlled and networked, the criminal does not have to be at the scene.


Molecular manufacturing raises the possibility of horrifically effective weapons. As an example, the smallest insect is about 200 microns; this creates a plausible size estimate for a nanotech-built antipersonnel weapon capable of seeking and injecting toxin into unprotected humans. The human lethal dose of botulism toxin is about 100 nanograms, or about 1/100 the volume of the weapon. As many as 50 billion toxin-carrying devices—theoretically enough to kill every human on earth—could be packed into a single suitcase. Guns of all sizes would be far more powerful, and their bullets could be self-guided. Aerospace hardware would be far lighter and higher performance; built with minimal or no metal, it would be much harder to spot on radar. Embedded computers would allow remote activation of any weapon, and more compact power handling would allow greatly improved robotics. These ideas barely scratch the surface of what's possible.

An important question is whether nanotech weapons would be stabilizing or destabilizing. Nuclear weapons, for example, perhaps can be credited with preventing major wars since their invention. However, nanotech weapons are not very similar to nuclear weapons. Nuclear stability stems from at least four factors. The most obvious is the massive destructiveness of all-out nuclear war. All-out nanotech war is probably equivalent in the short term, but nuclear weapons also have a high long-term cost of use (fallout, contamination) that would be much lower with nanotech weapons. Nuclear weapons cause indiscriminate destruction; nanotech weapons could be targeted. Nuclear weapons require massive research effort and industrial development, which can be tracked far more easily than nanotech weapons development; nanotech weapons can be developed much more rapidly due to faster, cheaper prototyping. Finally, nuclear weapons cannot easily be delivered in advance of being used; the opposite is true of nanotech. Greater uncertainty of the capabilities of the adversary, less response time to an attack, and better targeted destruction of an enemy's visible resources during an attack all make nanotech arms races less stable. Also, unless nanotech is tightly controlled, the number of nanotech nations in the world could be much higher than the number of nuclear nations, increasing the chance of a regional conflict blowing up.

Admiral David E. Jeremiah, Vice-Chairman (ret.), U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, in an address at the 1995 Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology said: "Military applications of molecular manufacturing have even greater potential than nuclear weapons to radically change the balance of power." An excellent essay by Tom McCarthy (unaffiliated with CRN) explores these points in more detail. He discusses the ways that MNT can destabilize international relations: MNT will reduce economic influence and interdependence, encourage targeting of people as opposed to factories and weapons, and reduce the ability of a nation to monitor its potential enemies. It may also, by enabling many nations to be globally destructive, eliminate the ability of powerful nations to "police" the international arena. By making small groups self-sufficient, it can encourage the breakup of existing nations.

http://www.crnano.org/dangers.htm#terrorists

Turtleflipper
June 12th, 2006, 11:21 AM
Can't we equib the populace with it's own nanoes, to fight off any criminal nanoes?

paintist
June 12th, 2006, 12:05 PM
Looks like we'll instead have to resolve differences intellectually rather than letting the one with the biggest stick win the fight. Is this technology really that much different than the technology which led to MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction)?


Nano-factories, once constructed can easily be replicated and hidden within very small areas making detection virtually impossible.
True, but then again nanotechnology may also increase detection technologies. There will still be sort of a balance here. Nanotechnology isn't all in favor of terrorism. It may help their fight but it will also help ours.

unkcheetah
June 12th, 2006, 12:54 PM
Looks like we'll instead have to resolve differences intellectually rather than letting the one with the biggest stick win the fight. Is this technology really that much different than the technology which led to MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction)?

You assume that our adversaries will want to resolve differences intellectually, too.
Is this technology really that different?
"As many as 50 billion toxin-carrying devices—theoretically enough to kill every human on earth—could be packed into a single suitcase."
Seems pretty different to me.



True, but then again nanotechnology may also increase detection technologies. There will still be sort of a balance here. Nanotechnology isn't all in favor of terrorism. It may help their fight but it will also help ours.

Detection? What about privacy issues? The ACLU will be all over this. What right does America have to disperse a fine powder-like substance around the world to spy on other nations? Besides, the operative word you use in the last sentence is, 'may'. There is no guarantee that 100% of these tine nano-factories would be discovered. It only takes one.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for MNT. I tend to be very optimistic about it. But the dangers should be acknowledged now and possible solutions to our national security should be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Castle
June 12th, 2006, 01:06 PM
Every new advance in military technology carries inherent dangers and risks. Criminals with bows were stronger than criminals with spears; criminals with guns were more dangerous than criminals with bows; criminals with bombs are more dangerous than criminals with guns; criminals with WMDs are more dangerous than criminals with bombs, and now, criminals with tiny WNDs are more dangerous than criminals with regular WMDs. It happens. Society has always adjusted before; it will now too.

unkcheetah
June 12th, 2006, 01:15 PM
Society has always adjusted before; it will now too.


I think so too. But you cannot just say, well things have a way of balancing themselves out, and expect it to be the case. When technology gets to the point that a suitcase sized factory can theoretically kill every single human being on Earth, it would be wise to sit up and take notice. We are not dealing with spears and bows here.

paintist
June 12th, 2006, 01:29 PM
You assume that our adversaries will want to resolve differences intellectually, too.
Sort of, but not really. I was just recognizing that this is just another arms race, or a continuation of the same arms race we've been running since the dawn of civilization. I want to shift focus away from running this endless race to being able to resolve issues intellectually. It seems completely fallacious to me that we predicate our policy with the idea that intellectual resolution is impossible and that therefore our only recourse is murder. However, if that is true of humanity - that the prime way humanity resolves it's issues is through one side being obliterated - then we have no right to say we are any more intelligent than an insect.



Is this technology really that different?
"As many as 50 billion toxin-carrying devices—theoretically enough to kill every human on earth—could be packed into a single suitcase."
Seems pretty different to me.

I agree, but it was a rhetorical question nonetheless. It is different but only on the order of magnitude. It is the proverbial smaller weapon with a bigger punch.



Detection? What about privacy issues? The ACLU will be all over this. What right does America have to disperse a fine powder-like substance around the world to spy on other nations?
Good questions!


Besides, the operative word you use in the last sentence is, 'may'. There is no guarantee that 100% of these tiny nano-factories would be discovered. It only takes one.
I'll certainly have to conceed that. But we're all talking hypotheticals here. Nanotechnology 'may' improve detection abilities in the same way nanotechnology 'may' aid terrorism or 'may' be used for bio-chemical-nano warfare.


Don't get me wrong, I am all for MNT. I tend to be very optimistic about it. But the dangers should be acknowledged now and possible solutions to our national security should be dealt with sooner rather than later.
I couldn't agree more. We just have to be sure that we don't appeal to our emotions that our enemies are these inherently evil demonic barbarians who only think about hate and blood. Everyone wants a better life for themselves, a better chance at existence. The problem is that each side views the other side as a threat to that existence. If you ask me, a better way to resolve the issue is to see in what way each side can continue to exist rather than beating the crap out of one another till one of us is conscious enough to walk out of the cage.

Castle
June 12th, 2006, 01:31 PM
When technology gets to the point that a suitcase sized factory can theoretically kill every single human being on Earth, it would be wise to sit up and take notice. We are not dealing with spears and bows here.
And when technology gets to the point that countries can stockpile enough bombs to blow up the world several times over, it is also wise to take notice. We did there, and we will now. Not to mention that a layman dealing with such potent biological weapons would most likely kill himself.

unkcheetah
June 12th, 2006, 02:23 PM
And when technology gets to the point that countries can stockpile enough bombs to blow up the world several times over, it is also wise to take notice. We did there, and we will now. Not to mention that a layman dealing with such potent biological weapons would most likely kill himself.


Nuclear weapons would not blow up the world several times over, though it is good that you are optimistic that things will works themselves out. However, this is a discussion on the capabilities of the technology, as it could be purchased at a fraction of the cost, and used against us by any number of possible adversaries, not a select few that have acquired the ability to manufacture nukes.
With Nanotech it seems that detecting an attack and then to identify the attacker would be a daunting task. And even if an attacker could be identified it could very well be too late.
So, what do we do? We know that it is just a matter of time before this technology takes off. Ten, fifteen, twenty years? It will be increasingly easy to obtain. Weapons that take only months to build, program and deploy. We have religious fascists who have sworn to dedicate their lives to see to it that you and your family are wiped off the face of the Earth. What would you do?
Would you just sit back and say, "Society has always adjusted before; it will now too."
That is putting a lot of faith in the hands of some you might not otherwise trust, don't you think?

paintist
June 12th, 2006, 02:29 PM
You're much more well-read on the matter than I so I'm going to ask you: Would an electromagnetic pulse render a nanotech device useless in the same way it renders any electrical device useless?

unkcheetah
June 12th, 2006, 02:31 PM
Sort of, but not really. I was just recognizing that this is just another arms race, or a continuation of the same arms race we've been running since the dawn of civilization.


Just another arms race with a technology that is infinately easier to obtain than nuclear arms. I wouldn't bo so quick to catagorize it as such. This technology has a potential to change literally everything about the human race.




I couldn't agree more. We just have to be sure that we don't appeal to our emotions that our enemies are these inherently evil demonic barbarians who only think about hate and blood. Everyone wants a better life for themselves, a better chance at existence. The problem is that each side views the other side as a threat to that existence. If you ask me, a better way to resolve the issue is to see in what way each side can continue to exist rather than beating the crap out of one another till one of us is conscious enough to walk out of the cage.

I am with you on that, but not everyone sees it that way. All it takes is one paranoid dictator with the hatred and will equal to Hitler or Stalin or even some cultist in Japan that wants to wipe out large swathes of the global population. It doesn't have to be a government necessarily.
<br><i><font color="red">The below text has been automerged with this post.</i></font><br>

You're much more well-read on the matter than I so I'm going to ask you: Would an electromagnetic pulse render a nanotech device useless in the same way it renders any electrical device useless?

Good question. I guess that would depend on whether the technology would operate on the same physical characteristics as an electronic device. I suppose some would. But then you have to think about bio-nanotechnology and synthetic bio-nanotechnolgy which would seem to operate like you or I. It is a very complicated issue.
<br><i><font color="red">The below text has been automerged with this post.</i></font><br>
I have attached a link below that illustrates the potential of a nanotechnology factory. A four minute animation showing how a powerful laptop computer can be manufactured on a table top using raw materials.

Consider the possibilities.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2022170440316254003
<br><i><font color="red">The below text has been automerged with this post.</i></font><br>

You're much more well-read on the matter than I so I'm going to ask you: Would an electromagnetic pulse render a nanotech device useless in the same way it renders any electrical device useless?

I have attached a link below that illustrates the potential of a nanotechnology factory. A four minute animation showing how a powerful laptop computer can be manufactured on a table top using raw materials.

Consider the possibilities.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...70440316254003
<br><i><font color="red">The below text has been automerged with this post.</i></font><br>
I have attached a link below that illustrates the potential of a nanotechnology factory. A four minute animation showing how a powerful laptop computer can be manufactured on a table top using raw materials.

Consider the possibilities.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...70440316254003

unkcheetah
June 13th, 2006, 03:35 PM
I have attached a link below that illustrates the potential of a nanotechnology factory. An absolutely fascinating four minute animation showing how a powerful laptop computer can be manufactured on a table top using just raw materials.

Consider the possibilities.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...70440316254003