Re: poly: The singleton hypothesis

From: Peter C. McCluskey <>
Date: Fri Jun 12 1998 - 09:22:23 PDT ("Nick Bostrom") writes:
>Scientists will prefer to help the powers that they perceive as the
>"good guys", whether they be the aggressors or not. Of course,
>historically speaking, aggression has usually been bad, so maybe
>scientists have favoured the non-aggressors more often than

 So much so that most civilized people react to aggression the
same way they react to other serious crimes - assume the person(s)
responsible are evil.

>aggressors. Yet, the formation of a singleton by a responsible,
>democratic power could well be seen as a good thing, especially if
>one considers the alternative, which is that the evil guys form the

 Think of when democratic governments have historically taken the lead
in utilizing new technologies and when they have been too slow or complacent.
The obvious examples of democracies leading the way are in reaction to

>> >would have to do would be to design a variant of this nanomachine
>> >that, say, replicate and, with delayed action, eat enemy steel
>> >structures. Then they've won.
>> They've won a battle. Plenty of people would still refuse to
>> surrender. Some independent nanotech research labs would still be at
>> least partly functional.
>What if you have another nanomachine that eats enemy plastic, and
>another that destroys glass?

 Where would a glass-eating nanomachine get the energy needed to do
its job? What would it convert the glass to? Why wouldn't people start
burning the nanomachines as they approached once they saw the harm it
was doing? It sounds like you are using handwaving instead of an
understanding of what nanotech can do.

>I'm leaning mostly on Drexler when I make assumptions of what is
>technologically possible. If Drexlerian nanotechnology and
>superintelligence are impossible then, of course, my argument fails.

 You are making a lot more assumptions than that to reach your conclusions
about how the transition from the first assembler to mature nanotech
engineering will happen, and your assumptions about glass-eating nanomachines
probably indicates you misunderstand the long-run possibilities. Without
a more rigorous argument than I am likely to provoke you into describing,
it is hard to know how many false assumptions you are making.

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list
Received on Fri Jun 12 16:38:25 1998

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