Re: poly: The singleton hypothesis

From: Nick Bostrom <>
Date: Tue Jun 30 1998 - 17:01:43 PDT

Peter C. McCluskey wrote:

> Not close. I can understand a machine that destroys a specific metal
> in terms of simple chemical operations - catalysing the oxidation of
> the metal, and moving some metal atoms out of the way so the oxygen
> can reach the buried parts of the metal. I don't know how to describe
> "foraging", "storing energy", or "using that energy to destroy the glass"
> in simple enough chemical terms that I would know how to guess whether
> a specific means of accomplishing them was feasible.

I'm not going to try to give you a molecular-level blueprint on how
to build a nanite that destroys glass (at least not for now), so we
have to agree to disagree on how difficult it will be to build a

> >Second, we are talking about destroying enemy glass. But don't you
> >think that once their metal and plastic and rubber (and a range of
> >other materials) are destroyed, their infrastructure will be so
> >weakened that it will be hard to keep up in the race to develop more
> >advanced nanotechnology?
> I think they will be weakened by widely varying amounts. Their motivation
> will be increased. The results seem hard to predict.

Why would their motivation be increased by such a humiliating

Even if their motivation were increased to the point of fanaticism, I
don't see how it could help much if their whole infrastructure is
totally demolished. They can't repair it either by using metals,
organical materials, plastic etc. They were lagging before and will
be lagging much more after the destruction. The motivation of the
leading force to push ahead will remain very strong.

Nick Bostrom
Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
London School of Economics
Received on Tue Jun 30 23:25:26 1998

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