"Scott T. Jensen" wrote:
> Militaries prepare for real potential enemies and cannot prepare for every
> imaginable possible enemies. CRN says nano-weaponry will cause an arms
> race. It needs to then identify who in be in such an arms race and why.
> The US could spend trillions of dollars preparing for a war with Canada, but
> that would just be silly due to how well the US and Canada get along.
We say it *could* cause an arms race--even that it's likely to. We
don't have to identify a specific country--just a situation that's
realistic and plausible for the range of countries we have in the world.
So let's look at it this way. If two countries like the U.S. and Canada
are extremely friendly, they have more to gain from a joint nanotech
project than from separate ones, and nothing to lose. (A joint project
can move faster, get more patents, etc.) Now, which combinations of
countries would you nominate for joint nanotech development? I can tell
you some I would *not* nominate: India and China. China and the U.S.
The U.S. and any Muslim state or collaboration. A Muslim collaboration
and Israel (which BTW is already raising significant money for a
So let's assume that (for example) China and India are working on
molecular nanotech manufacturing in separate programs. Do they trust
each other enough to share all their military secrets? Of course not.
So neither one knows exactly what the other is doing. A quick Google
search for <"arms race" India China> found this in the top 10 results:
I have yet to see an argument that nanotech weapons would be at least as
stabilizing as nukes. I have seen an argument that they would be
destabilizing, and it makes sense to me. If (for example) the weaker
power felt threatened by the stronger, it would at least try to build a
"minimum credible" deterrent (quoting from that article). Now, we don't
know yet whether nanotech-built weapons are better at defense or at
offense. I suspect the latter, but it's too soon to say. But if it
turns out that the minimum credible deterrent is also sufficient for a
credible threat, and if *both* countries fear expansionism (or
retaliation for previous events, or...) by the other, then you have all
the makings of an arms race.
> > Ten years from now the "enemy" could well be a country
> > that's currently an ally.
> I don't see how this would happen given the current state of the world.
What is your definition of ally? For example, is every nation in NATO
an ally of every other? And are you assuming that all major countries
have stable governments? I'm not.
> > The way to think about it is that the history of the human
> > race has been more-or-less continuous warfare, and
> > there's no reason to think that will change.
> But it did change with the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan. There
> hasn't been a major war in the world since that time. No major power has
> declared war against another major power and there is no evidence this will
> occur for the foreseeable future. The development of nano-weaponry should
> have the same effect.
I'd still like to talk about the content of Gubrud's paper. It's not
just the destructiveness of nukes that tends toward stability. There's
also the long-term cost of use (lower with nanotech), the indiscriminate
nature of destruction (significantly lower with nanotech), and the ease
of monitoring each other (vastly lower with nanotech).
Also, I wonder how much of the post-WWII stability resulted from the
existence of the new type of state--the global superpower--instead of
the Bomb. The U.S. has declared war on several nations since then, but
they were too small to do us much damage other than in a social sense.
Back in 1990 Iraq was a noteworthy regional power. And the U.S. did
fight with the other global superpower, the Soviet Union--we just did it
by proxy in several countries. We were unwilling to undertake an open
confrontation, and this may in fact be because of nukes.
Now let's take "global superpower" to mean a nation that can inflict
crippling damage at will on large areas of the globe. Nanotech may give
multiple nations that ability, thus creating several global
superpowers. Do they all play nice? Or do they arm themselves (as
happened before when there were only two superpowers) and fight
semi-covertly at high cost to third parties (as also happened)?
> > One significant point is that Nanotech is like Nuclear
> > technology in that it's very expensive and difficult to
> > produce.
> It depends what you consider to be nanotech. Many conceive nanites as
> possessing and needing to possess the ability to reproduce. If this is the
> nanotech you refer to, production of nanites will be neither expensive or
> difficult. Development of them will be, but not the production of them.
Right. And also consider that they may be a lot easier to steal than
atomic technology. It's not easy to smuggle pounds of uranium, but a
small nanofactory would be extremely smugglable.
How many Cuban Missile Crises would arise from such a situation? How
many of those would turn into major conflicts? What's your estimate of
the damage caused by a major nanotech conflict, and the likely
> > Organizations like CRN have never had much effect on
> > real world events. They require too much general
> > "buy-in" by a very large group of people, and since they
> > have no enforcement capabilities, as soon as one group
> > splits off and goes it's own way the group dissolves.
> A likely possibility.
An interesting point. CRN does not intend to try to keep people bought
in. We are still working on long-term strategy, but I can give a
tentative discussion, and I'd like feedback from anyone.
For this purpose, I see the world as composed of many powerful
special-interest groups. Large businesses are one, which I sometimes
lump under "Commercial". Each major country is one, and sometimes I
lump them under "Government", or "Guardian" after Jane Jacobs. Then
there are environmental and human rights groups, which in aggregate can
be powerful. And scientists, technicians, and eventually hackers.
(This is not an exhaustive list.)
Our current idea is to develop a workable administration plan, then show
in detail why each of those groups should want it according to their own
short- and long-term self interest. If enough groups of enough
different types buy in, they will act within and across types to keep
the rest in line. Of course some will not want to toe the line, and the
administration plan has to be prepared to deal with that. Nuclear
non-proliferation has certainly been at least a partial success, and I
take some hope from that.
> > Sorry to say so, but the only real possibility for control
> > is probably some strong world government, but that
> > comes with its own set of nightmares which might be
> > worse than a Nano-War.
> I would agree.
There are kinds of control other than force and law. For example,
technological built-in controls can be made quite difficult to
circumvent. That won't stop someone from developing it independently,
but it will make it harder to steal. Another example: self regulation
is only somewhat useful or reliable (depending heavily on the kind of
community), but if responsible MNT (molecular nanotechnology) science is
willing to self-regulate somewhat strenuously, that could delay rogue
MNT development by at least a few years--which might be enough to build
defenses, and would at least give us a lot more opportunity to research
the problems and know what we're up against.
Then there's the separate question of whether strong world government is
unavoidable once MNT arrives. There are several factors that could lead
from MNT to strong world government. First, if nanotech is a major
factor in military defense/offense, the most stable situation is
probably a world government backed by nanotech. Second, reaction to the
threats and dangers of nanotech can drive people toward wanting stronger
world government. Third, if nanotech is useful in subjugating
populations (as it surely will be), a world government-type organization
with nanotech can make itself quite strong even against the will of the
governed. There are probably other factors.
Chris Phoenix cphoe...@best.com http://xenophilia.org
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (co-founder) http://CRNano.org