Re: poly: The singleton hypothesis

From: Nick Bostrom <>
Date: Mon Jun 15 1998 - 19:28:09 PDT

Peter C. McCluskey wrote:

> ("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.

Strange thing to say. Soldiers are often greeted as heros by their
own people. Holy wars? Rambo?

> >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?

(Notice that I said glass-destroying, not glass-eating!) For example,
they could carry a small pack of high-energy molecules with

> What would it convert the glass to?

For example, smaller pieces of glass.

> Why wouldn't people start
> burning the nanomachines as they approached once they saw the harm it
> was doing?

One reason would be that it would happen very quickly. Another reason
is that if they set fire to their labs they just help the attacker to
achieve his aims.

Peter, I think it is time to end this debate for the time being.
Let's continue when I've finished my paper. It will be easier to
criticize me then. Your objections have been very helpful in forcing
me to fill in gaps in my argument.

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
London School of Economics
Received on Tue Jun 16 01:50:14 1998

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Mar 07 2006 - 14:45:30 PST