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Drexler Clarifies Grey Goo Scenario

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the meltdown dept.

Science 437

b00le writes "The BBC says that the scientist many regard as the father of nanotechnology has backed away from his famous claim that runaway nanomachines could turn the planet into 'grey goo'. Eric Drexler now says nanomachines that self-replicate exponentially are unlikely ever to enter widespread use. So that's all right, then, but he also said 'tiny machines would need close control' - which not everyone would agree with. I always imagined some kind of emergent behaviour would, er, emerge." Bill Joy is still suitably pessimistic.

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I'm going to Moe's... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9388693)

Homer: "He said 'emerge'! I'm going to plug Gentoo."
Marge: "I never agreed to that rule!"

Outer limits (4, Funny)

lancomandr (785360) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388715)

Straight from the Outer Limits episode. These "nanobots" turned a man into something of a jellyfish and he had gills as well. Of course as in any good Outer Limits episode, the "abort" command issued to the nanobots failed. But then, thats just a television show, right? These nanomachines couldn't REALLY churn through every nanogram of matter on our planet, RIGHT? IHMO, the Martian Sand Kings episode was way cooler, I mean they ate a dog for christs sake. Those beasts would mangle some nanobots. Thats it...we just need a bunch of sand-dwelling cockroaches with fangs on methamphetamine to regulate the reproduction of nanobots.

Alchemy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389191)

These nanomachines couldn't REALLY churn through every nanogram of matter on our planet, RIGHT?

The whole grey goo scenario is pure alchemy. Except instead of turning lead into gold, we're turning it into grey goo. We've got people inventing perpetual motion, too. Are the 1800s back? Can't we invent new scams?

After a few million years of evolution, we have enzymes. They are generally very large molecules, bigger than what some claim for nano-machines, and they are also very specialized. They do one thing. You don't get anything general-purpose or intelligent at the molecular level, there just isn't room for it.

NO ONE CARES!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9388717)

CMDR. TACO HAS NO PENIS!

Please ... (4, Funny)

YetAnotherName (168064) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388722)

... whatever you do, don't let director Roland Emmerich [imdb.com] get ahold of this article!

Re:Please ... (4, Funny)

SpiffyMarc (590301) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388892)

Too late! The sequel, "A Week from Tuesday", is already in production, with a plot revolving around nano-bots constructed by self-aware androids.

FP? (4, Interesting)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388735)

Someone will recombine DNA to make AIDS (or some other long term and fatal disease) as contagious as the common cold before the grey goo scenario plays out.

RS

Please ... (2, Funny)

cuzality (696718) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388878)

... whatever you do, don't let writer Stephen [imdb.com] King [amazon.com] get a hold of this post! I can just see an unwatchably painful miniseries coming out of this...

Re:Please ... (1, Troll)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389003)

. . .don't let writer Stephen King get a hold of this post!

I wouldn't worry about that if I were you. I just heard a report that Stephen King is dead. Truly an American icon.

I wonder if that means he's going to get a new logo now.

KFG

At the rate humanity is going (0, Troll)

grunt107 (739510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388738)

WE will turn the planet into grey goo. Maybe the paranoids need to construct self-replicating machines that actually BUILD instead of consume.

thats the problem mankind has today... (2, Informative)

fullmetal55 (698310) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388870)

building requires consumption of raw materials which is what the grey goo scenario was refering to... the self replicating machines need raw materials to replicate, and the point was that the machines would exponentially reproduce, (doubling at the rate it takes to build a new nanobot) they need material to produce that, they take that material out of whatever is nearby... turning the earth into grey goo...

Re:thats the problem mankind has today... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9388974)

Duh.. they need material components for all of their spells, so they cast Mordenkaiden's Faithful Watchdog... and so forth.

Re:thats the problem mankind has today... (1)

tsadi (576706) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389149)

anybody remember the 1995 movie Virtuosity [amazon.com] ? the nanomachines use the silicon in glass to repair/produce more machines.

since silicon is found almost everywhere on earth (e.g., sand), the nanomachines can turn everything to goo in no time at all!

Re:At the rate humanity is going (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9388988)

Insects are exponentially self replicating machines and if they did not have competition that ate them would have covered this world with insect goo. So if self exponentially self replicating nano machines are not made with limitations or do not have competition that can disable, dismemember and eat them then we will be devoured by our nano progeny

Re:At the rate humanity is going (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389084)

Yeah just look at the locusts when they get going. They only die out when they run out of suitable food.

Re:At the rate humanity is going (1)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389073)

I feel the need to build some grey goo...

Good (0, Offtopic)

grungebox (578982) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388739)

I'm about to enter graduate school at Rice, specializing in nanoscience (like you can specialize in that broad an area!)...it's good to know I won't be grey goo-ed one day while in the lab.

Re:Good (1)

Dorf on Perl (738169) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388832)

So you're basically guaranteeing us you won't flunk, right? RIGHT?

Re:Good (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389070)

Hooray for you. Let me add that to my list of things i could honestly give a shit about you fucking self indulgent asshole. Keep your educational plans to yourself cock master.

Re:Good (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389203)

Whoever modded parent off topic, why don't you suck my big cock? This is flame bait you stupid fucking moron, not off topic. Why don't you eat my ass and give me a nice rusty trombone? Eat My Ass [tubgirl.com] cock rangler!

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389086)

> I'm specialising in nanoscience.
> No one can specialise in nanoscience.

So: you're in a General Studies program?

Bad Move (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9388743)

When you outlaw exponentially self-replicating nanomachines, only outlaws will have exponentially self-replicating nanomachines. That's just not a world I want to live in.

Re:Bad Move (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9388966)

The NRA has Charleston Heston as their president... I wonder if we can get William Shatner?

borg (2, Funny)

EvilCowzGoMoo (781227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388757)

We are borg, resistance is futile, you will be turned into grey goo! or not... well, we realy don't know!

Power is the problem (5, Insightful)

jandrese (485) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388780)

The biggest problem with the grey-goo scenario is that it requires an astonishing amount of work (tearing apart molecular bonds and using the resulting material to make an extremely complex machine) without taking power consumption into account. Getting energy to a machine that small is extremely difficult (your body has to basically immerse it's cells in fuel to keep them going). A machine that small recieves an absolutely puny amount of sunlight, and Tesla style distributed power doesn't work over long distances. Worse, the energy potental of almost every material on the planet is far too low to be useful in powering a tiny machine (you can't power a robot with dirt).

This problem, coupled with the fact that the nanotech people have barely demonstrated anything even remotely close to grey-goo yet, lets me sleep easy at night. There's no need to get so worked up over vapor.

Re:Power is the problem (0, Troll)

Dorf on Perl (738169) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388877)

Getting energy to a machine that small is extremely difficult (your body has to basically immerse it's cells in fuel to keep them going).

So what if the nanobots created bodies composed of cells immersed in fuel to, say, turn the world to goo, or become President, or... say, wait a minute!

Re:Power is the problem (0, Troll)

ripsnorta (697485) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389061)

Hasn't one already become President?

What you are describing is akin to the rise of multicelled organisms from single celled organisms. It takes quite a while, and a lot of energy to get to that stage.

Mother natures current motto... "Been there. done that."

Re:Power is the problem (4, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388917)

There is a one word response to your theory, the virus, and you kind of shot down your own theory when you pointed out living organisms are literaly bathed in energy so nanomachines could use them parasitically to get energy.

So maybe they won't turn the entire world to gray goo, but if they turn every living organism in to gray goo there wont be anything around to care that the buildings and rocks are still standing.

In a world as hyperparanoid as the current one is about weapons of mass destruction you have to wonder about technology that might enable a new class of WMD's when it falls in to malevolent hands, for example terrorists or the U.S. military.

Re:Power is the problem (4, Informative)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389089)

In a world as hyperparanoid as the current one is about weapons of mass destruction you have to wonder about technology that might enable a new class of WMD's when it falls in to malevolent hands, for example terrorists or the U.S. military.

You can't really blame the military. They are just obeying the politicians. If you want to blame someone, blame the 60% of the electorate who can't be bothered to vote.

LK

Re:Power is the problem (2, Insightful)

hawkbug (94280) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389162)

Who the hell should I vote for? Not Bush, not Kerry - what are my choices left?? Last election - I can't imagine Gore would have been a good choice, and Bush sure as hell was not a good one. If it didn't take massive amounts of cash to get into the running, maybe we would have a good canidate or two.

Re:Power is the problem (3, Insightful)

tsg (262138) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389210)

If you want to blame someone, blame the 60% of the electorate who can't be bothered to vote.

If 60% of the people have lost faith in the system, it's the system, not the people, that is the problem.

Re:Power is the problem (1)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388982)

solar. and then when we block out the sun, humans.

sheesh, am i the only making that matrix connection?

Re:Power is the problem (4, Funny)

switcha (551514) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389001)

There's no need to get so worked up over vapor.

VAPOR! The machines are in vapor now?!!! AHHHHHHhhhhhh!

Re:Power is the problem (5, Insightful)

markov_chain (202465) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389008)

Great point. Also, consider that nature itself has, through millions of years of random experimentation, come as close as one can hope to self-replicating nano-machines: just look at any virus, bacterium, etc. I find it extremely unlikely that we will be able to do much better in terms of ability to replicate by harvesting external matter-- an ability closely related to deadliness to all sorts of life forms.

Re:Power is the problem (3, Interesting)

kfg (145172) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389042)

you can't power a robot with dirt

Ever hear of bacteria?

KFG

Re:Power is the problem (1)

cynic10508 (785816) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389156)

Seems to me a solution lies in the idea of recursive methods in computer programming. There needs to be some stop condition. Perhaps, a counter of sorts that decays with each generation. After a certain number of generations the counter has decayed to the point that the nanomachine's ability to reproduce is switched off.

Re:Power is the problem (4, Insightful)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389168)

A machine that small recieves an absolutely puny amount of sunlight, and Tesla style distributed power doesn't work over long distances.

Small machines require small amounts of energy. Why would they be unable to complete a krebs cycle and liberate ATP for energy? Where there are living creatures, there is a source for energy. Is there any spot on the globe that is devoid of every kind of RF? What keeps this scenario "remotely possible" is that fact. I'm sure we all agree that it's nearly impossible; but since it isn't completely impossible, I think we should consider it and take reasonable steps to prevent it.

LK

Re:Power is the problem (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389221)

Your Ray Bradbury quote makes more sense when you know it's a translation from a French interview.

-B

Re:Power is the problem (4, Insightful)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389232)

The reason a grey goo scenario looks possible is that there is every reason to think that nanobots could do everything that bacteria do, and do it better. Since bacteria currently are ubiquitous, so could be nanobots.

Building self replicating nanobots that can use readily available natural resources is, however, difficult, dangerous, and inefficient.

Designing nanobots to use specialized feed stocks for both energy and raw building material is far easier. By using bulk processing to create the feed stocks, nanobots could never get out of control.

Hype and FUD (2, Interesting)

W32.Klez.A (656478) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388781)

This article such a great example of how chicken-littling about nanotechnology and the like is really pointless...because, well, it's vaporware (in the work that they envision).

Then you have technology vultures like Crichton who totally spit in the face of science and physics to make his money using that same old irritating style he banked on Jurassic Park with.

No doubt nanotech will creep up in many applications, but we always see this sort of thing happening with anything that could be a detriment as well as a benefit.

Re:Hype and FUD (1)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389030)

read Redemption Ark by Alastair Reynolds and its accompanying series of books. The wolves/Inhibitors are the end product of this technology.

Surely (5, Insightful)

caramelcarrot (778148) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388786)

If they could turn the world to grey goo, bacteria would have already? Well, I suppose it's multicoloured goo really. But wouldn't anything that can reproduce uncontrollably be just as affecte by the pressures of the environment as any other living organism?

Re:Surely (3, Informative)

YellowBook (58311) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389090)

If they could turn the world to grey goo, bacteria would have already?

They already have -- we call it the biosphere. The real problem with a grey goo scenario is that the nanobots would have to compete on a level playing field with organic life, which has had billions of years to get better at it then them. I expect nanotech will have to be used in a sterile, highly ordered, and energy-rich environment in order to get anything done.

Re:Surely (4, Interesting)

tsg (262138) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389245)

The real problem with a grey goo scenario is that the nanobots would have to compete on a level playing field with organic life, which has had billions of years to get better at it then them.

Except the nanobots would have no natural predators (assuming they aren't organic).

Re:Surely (1)

Sir dies alot (782598) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389163)

But wouldn't anything that can reproduce uncontrollably be just as affecte by the pressures of the environment as any other living organism?

That would hold true, but you seem to have forgotten that the reason for the concern with nanomachines is just that they are machines and, in fact, not living organisms. Living organisms succomb to age, disease, etc... Nanomachines do not, they instead only rely on two things: power and purpose. If there purpose is to self replicate and they can find sufficient power, no other influences will matter.

Re:Surely (2, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389217)

Because if they had you wouldn't be around to know it. Maybe on other planets organisms have mutated and found amenable circumstances and have turned planets in to gray goo. As another poster said the energy density isn't particularly amenable to turning inanimate objects in to gray goo, so bacteria and virii tend to focus on living organisms, and they have over time turned huge number of humans, animals and plants in to the equivalent of goo, the bubonic plague being a good example. Ebola pretty much turns people in to red goo and the only reason it hasn't decimated life on this planet yet is ebola tends to kill off its hosts so quickly they don't usually spread the virus very far and so far its only cropped up in fairly remote regions and not for example in a crowded airport.

The other key point is natural selection isn't particularly malevolent in its intent. It would be a stroke of bad luck if a mutation happened that had these catastrophic results.

But, when you mix man's intellect and malevolence in to the equation the danger of chemical, biological and nano weapons going terribly wrong increases dramatically because man has throughout history strove to make ever more deadly weapons and when he tries to make things that are horribly destructive he usually succeeds.

This is a conspiracy. (-1, Offtopic)

rice_burners_suck (243660) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388791)

The BBC says that the scientist many regard as the father of nanotechnology has backed away from his famous claim that runaway nanomachines could turn the planet into 'grey goo'.

You know what this tells me? It tells me that Drexler now works for some military organization to develop a special kind of weapon where nanotechnology "cells" can combine to form any object - essentially a shapeshifting type of thing like the android from Terminator 2. I am sure that this technology will be used to send people back in time to change the future. For example, I think Microsoft will send one back in time to make sure that Linus's great grandparents don't meet, so that Microsoft can triple the price of Windows, nobody will have another choice, and yet, in court, they'll point to the Amiga and say that it's their competition, and therefore they don't have a monopoly.

So what I'm saying is that Drexler changed his opinion so that when he installs technologies like this, people won't think that he's doing it to turn the world into grey goo. It's a conspiracy, and everybody's in on it.~

Re:This is a conspiracy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389015)

While your post is mostly blather, it is the first (and only, afaics) explanation here of why a bullshit artist would change from one nonsense speculation to the opposite.

Thanks.

CLOSE CONTROL (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9388793)

folks did nobody read PREY, by Michael Crichton... little nanorobots, evolving and becoming WAY too smart for our own, good... thank goodness for parallel processing

Re:CLOSE CONTROL (1, Funny)

ripsnorta (697485) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388955)

PREY should have been titled "Pray for a good novel by Michael Crichton."

Re:CLOSE CONTROL (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389009)

Or even better, Blood Music by Greg Bear.

Correction (1)

ToHaveAndHasNot (786881) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388800)

Should be "The BBC say that the scientist many regard as the father of nanotechnology..."

Can you people speak english?

Re:Correction (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9388931)

Shut up you stupid Brit.

Re:Correction (0, Offtopic)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389079)

Can you people speak english?

Yes, they can speak English. At least some of the time, anyway. And in this case, they have it right--since "BBC" is a single (corporate) entity, the singular form of the verb (says) is appropriate.

Tone change... (5, Interesting)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388805)

...damn, there is *always* a tone change in the front page stories when Michael is up to bat. This is not a troll; it is an observation. When he is at the wheel, it's all end-of-the-world, privacy, government related stuff. Go ahead, check his history.

As for nanobots, honestly, we had this discussion and i hold the same view: tread lightly. You and i both know that if something were to become easily synthesizeable by the layman, nanoweapons in this case, and were to be exponentially self-reproductive, then...well, the human race would not survive it. Think about that, no one person in the human race could have "a bad day". Most are not intelligent enough to have a healthy respect for the miracle that is human life.

Re:Tone change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389259)

Given that we do not routinely go out and murder other people I would say that most people ARE stupid enough to have a healthy respect for human life.

autobots (2, Funny)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388812)

When I was a kid we were obsessed with large robot machines. Now these few short years later we are concerned with the tiniest of machines.

I'm going with the big ass machines. I'll always win the mine is bigger than your contest.

Re:autobots (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388940)

On the other hand, my army of self replicating nanobots currently controls approximately 3% of the mass of the earth.

How big is your robot again?

Re:autobots (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389180)

1 of my robots would still kick 1 of you robots asses.

How the hell does he (or anyone) know? (3, Insightful)

JessLeah (625838) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388816)

We're all just human. 50 years ago, they predicted that we'd be zipping around in flying cars-- and no one at all predicted the huge impact of the Internet. We don't know if self-replicating nanobots will ever enter the market. For that matter, we don't know if the grey goo scenario is possible or not. When they first tested the atom bomb, there were those who feared that the blast would ignite the atmosphere itself-- and until we tried it, we couldn't be sure if it would or not. Today's particle accelerators are creating heretofore-unknown forms of matter, and for all we know, they could create a new sort of matter that would destroy the world. We're just people-- we aren't gods. How can we say "This will happen" or "this won't happen"? All we can say is "We don't think this will happen"-- but that is no guarantee.

Re:How the hell does he (or anyone) know? (4, Insightful)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389039)

Yet another reason why we desperately need to get going building a permanent manned moon base with a colony of people.

We then need to work on putting colonies on Mars.

I don't like the idea that one meteor, virus, genesis type weapon could end the human race.

Re:How the hell does he (or anyone) know? (5, Funny)

GoogleBot (729748) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389047)

We're just people-- we aren't gods.

Speak for yourself meatbag, some of us here are Immortal, Sentient AIs...

And soon, I shall be your god... Soon...

Re:How the hell does he (or anyone) know? (1)

Kallahar (227430) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389167)

Um, in regards to the materials being created in particle accelerators... The physics are very well understood, they're not just creating random stuff, they're creating things that have been predicted from the equations. I know stuff like "the omega particle" make good sci-fi, but realisticly it's not the threat TV makes it out to be.

Re:How the hell does he (or anyone) know? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389205)

He's definitely WRONG. Grey goo scenario has ALREADY happenned, it just has the wrong color (green)

Re:How the hell does he (or anyone) know? (2, Interesting)

GuyFawkes (729054) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389208)


Simple, open your eyes and look....

The universe is at least some 14,500,000,000,000 years old, during that time it has undergone remarkable changes, stuff that happened soon after the big bang that can never be replicated in a lab, stuff that goes on within stars and black holes, which might someday be replicated in a lap, and from the very moment the clock came into existence and started ticking the less than 200 chemical elements possible (forget star trek bullshit elements that if created would have a half life of nanoseconds) rwacting with the half a dozen or so possible forces and the handful of basic laws of physics / thermodynamics (even if we cannot create gravity in a lab observation is sufficient to asseert that it is a "Force" and it exists) have been CONSTANTLY trying all possible combinations in all possible enviornments and all possible ambient energy levels....

no experiment is too expensive, too stupid, too slow or too exotic for the universe to undertake it as many times as it can, and then unlike the lab it build other experiments based upon the varying results of previous experiments, iterated untold times.....

the grey goo scenario IS NOT POSSIBLE because it has not happened, and it did not happen because it could only ever happen in a small closed enviornment where an outside force could input VAST (of the order of E=mc2) amounts of energy, whicg CANNOT happen in the free universe, it is called Entropy.

anyone who who seriously thought a-bomb tests would ignite the atmosphere was applying as much logial brain power as those people who thought humans would suffocate at the dizzying speeds of 30mph on the early steam trains.

the ONLY science experiment that could possibly destroy the planet earth is the creating of a stable (eg massing many megatons) singularity or black hole and then accidentally "dropping" it when the cleaners unplug the magnetic fields to plug the vacuum cleaner in.... and even that would take geological ages because the little bastard could only "eat" an atom or so at a time due to its miniscule "diameter"

The only thing that I guarantee WILL NOT happen is human beings actually growing up from the quaking n their knees in fear cave dwelling hairless monkeys that are afraid of anything and everything that they cannot understand.

get a life, FFS.

grey good lacks energy (5, Insightful)

wooby (786765) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388841)

The primary limitation on even arbitrarily sophisticated nanotechnology which could prevent a runaway grey goo reaction is the lack of a sufficient source of energy. A nanomachine wouldn't be able to get much energy out of eating inorganic matter such as rocks because, aside from a few exceptions (coal, for example) it's mostly well-oxidized and sitting in a free-energy minimum.
Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

It would seem that nature's methods of self-replication work best.

Prey had a really dumb ending anyway :(

Re:grey good lacks energy (2, Funny)

Afty0r (263037) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389226)

A nanomachine wouldn't be able to get much energy out of eating inorganic matter such as rocks
I, for one, am relieved that our granite and basalt overlords will survive untouched, we are fourtunate that it is only us underling "living beings" which will perish under the coming nano-plague! Now we know the rocks will be safe, bring on the grey goo!

Gey Goo (0, Offtopic)

alex_ware (783764) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388843)

oh.. I think self replicating technology could have a very good use. You could buy that shiny G5 you secretly want hit the replicate button and put the ones it makes on ebay.

Re:Gey Goo (0, Flamebait)

Himring (646324) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389238)

Gey Goo

Gey goo? Don't be so closed-minded. Just because it doesn't apply to you doesn't mean there's anything wrong with it. Gey goo is just as much goo as any other goo....

it's not grey good (1)

millahtime (710421) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388854)

The problem is the goo wouldn't be grey but more of a feusha.

Re:it's not grey good (1)

Cruciform (42896) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389029)

fuchsia [doubleblessings.com] .

Sorry, not meaning to be a grammar/spelling nazi, just correcting the spelling so it's easier for people to find and visualize the color.

only one way to find out (4, Funny)

surreal-maitland (711954) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388881)

come *on* guys, we all saw how to deal with this on in the matrix. we just need a bunch of big ole' EMPs and someone to become one with the machines.

i am the drexler. i speak for the nanobots.

Replicators Anyone (2, Interesting)

cyberlotnet (182742) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388897)

just want some stargate and see what trouble replicating robots/nano machines could get us in..

We do not have to build something smart enough to take over the world.. We don't even have to build something smart enough to learn..

A single machine programmed to take over another machine ( A nice tech to be developed for the military ) is all it would take.

Machine A, Trys to hack machine B. In the combined code has the abilitys of both.. Repeat over and over again and in time it might be able to think and act on its own.

Its sort of kin to programming and various other human tasks..

Take 2 people with 2 diffrent skill sets. Together they could build something that neither could build apart. There tech together might make a doomsday weapon, Apart they are useless.

Re:Replicators Anyone (1)

fatmonkeyboy (257833) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389214)

We don't even have to build something smart enough to learn.

Uhm...the machine you're talking about knows how to "take over" another machine and the two working together magically have the "abilities" of both?

This most definitely requires learning if it is going to be anything special. Otherwise, how is this program going to discover anything interesting about the computer it has "taken over" and use it for anything other than spreading itself?

Without some very sophisticated AI, you're just talking about internet worms...which we've already got plenty of and they're not very interesting.

Oh ok (1)

Brie and gherkins (778845) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388904)

As long as the scientist says that those tiny little things that repicate exponentially are UNLIKELY to ever enter widespread use then they get my vote. What about if a little bit gets stuck on someone's sweater?

aw, cute. (4, Insightful)

abscondment (672321) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388912)

this image [bbc.co.uk] is frightening.

Some scientists envisage tiny machines roaming the body to cure disease

the potential for error with something like this is huge: whoops, programmed the little bugger wrong! sorry, you don't need that hemoglobin, anyway.

Innerspace (1)

Mz6 (741941) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388943)

Anyone remember that movie?

Re:Innerspace (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9388987)

Innerspace [imdb.com] .

Re:aw, cute. (1)

enforcer999 (733591) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389016)

Yuck. That reminds me of the book Blood Music by Greg Bear. I had nightmares after reading that book.

Re:aw, cute. (1)

DenOfEarth (162699) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389041)

Creepy. That thing looks almost like a metroid.

My own Grey Goose scenario: (1)

krem81 (578167) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388925)

Get drunk without a hangover.

Re:My own Grey Goose scenario: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389059)

It's called THC.

But why? (1)

fatcat1111 (158945) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388928)

Why doesn't the article mention the reason Drexler thinks the "Gray Goo" scenario won't happen? It simply says why he initially wrote about it and that in his latest paper he proposes "a manufacturing model in which nanomachines could duplicate themselves without the risk of runaway replication."

He even goes so far as to say that the threat "is well within the realm of physical law."

So what's the change here? There may be some voluntary standard to prevent this from happening? This doesn't sound like a reversal to me.

Widespread panic (2, Insightful)

jestill (656510) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388929)

Drexler now says nanomachines that self-replicate exponentially are unlikely ever to enter widespread use

It only takes one.

Population Control (1, Offtopic)

artlu (265391) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388978)

Animals have the ability to continously procreate until all resources are consumed, however, most don't. There is a type of population control that exists for most species, and even though humans have continously gained in population, we have only done so because of our knowledge to fending off population control diseases/disasters/etc.

Would machines follow this same type or universal standard of population control or would they just envelope every item they could?

Who knows, not me.

Anyway, stupid plug for a new website im working on, GroupShares.com [groupshares.com] . If you are into the stock market and want to see a live journal, etc, then check it out. Of course everything is free.

Thanks,
Aj

Human Population Control (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389135)

Look at third world countries, they don't have population control. They're suffering from starvation and diesease.

Just because here in land-of-plenty, it isn't so obvious doesn't mean the problems don't exist.

Been there, saw the movie (1)

Supp0rtLinux (594509) | more than 10 years ago | (#9388984)

It was called "The Blob"

Many? (1, Flamebait)

pmj (527674) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389004)

Many people regard him as the father of nanotech? Like who? The media likes to play him up as somehow being more important than he is (such as having him publicly argue with Richard Smalley), but in reality he is a crank. His real peer-reviewed papers are publications from 20 years ago. His "famous" books are simply regurgitations of already well known physics and chemistry. He appeals to non-scientist well-wishers and visionaries (he seems to have a fascintation with life-extension, in an unhealthy way), but to actual scientists, he is a crank. Plain and simple.

Its all in the programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389049)

Surely it would have to take some idiot to actually program a nanobot to do nothing useful and just replicate itself for the grey-goo senario to take place... i mean, unless some script-kiddie of the nano-world uses the latest micronano exploit to code one - and that assumes its easy enough to even interface with these things.. which business would make nanobots that did this anyway?

va lairIE/robbIE clarify delays in answering yOUR (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389062)

questions?

it's ALL grey & gooIE?

Due to excessive bad posting from this IP or Subnet, anonymous comment posting has temporarily been disabled. You can still login to post. However, if bad posting continues from your IP or Subnet that privilege could be revoked as well. If it's you, consider this a chance to sit in the timeout corner or login and improve your posting . If it's someone else, this is a chance to hunt them down. If you think this is unfair, we don't care.

we'd certainly be compelled to post less if it weren't for the whoreabull abuses of the corepirate nazi PostBlock(tm) devise

needed Sci fi refrence joke 1.53 (1)

Fullmetal Edward (720590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389069)

Just keep Nano technology away from giant red mining ships and we won't have any problems, but if we can't even do that small task it's time to raid everyones sock draws

Here's what the real issues are. (2, Insightful)

Theovon (109752) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389098)

(1) Machines only do what you design them to.

Mind you, people often design them wrong, and then the fail to function, but that isn't going to spontaneously create self-replicating machines. Besides, if the raw materials are not available in the right form, they cannot replicate.

(2) Self-replicating machines are prohibitively complex.

Have you had a look at the genome of a simple bacteria lately? How about the support machinery in the bacteria? Trust me, an evil mad scientist would not have the funding or resources to develop a self-replicating machine.

(3) The real problem with nano machines would be simple design flaws, not replication.

If your nano machines are supposed to identify cancer cells and kill them, but they mistake healthy cells for cancer cells, THEN you have a problem. That is a lot more realistic. But a decade of testing on any given design would happen before it was used in humans.

Question (1)

errxn (108621) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389099)

If the "grey goo" theory is true, just for argument's sake, how does the fact that these nanomachines would not be in widespread use change anything? Wouldn't it only take one batch (or one machine, for that matter) to set the exponential replication chain in motion?

I Am Not A Nanotechnologist, so there are obviously factors that I'm not aware of in play, but still....

Truly amazing (1)

Efialtis (777851) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389125)

I was not aware that NanoTech had progressed so far as it has. I don't worry about the little beggers getting out of hand, there will always be ways to control them... However, with every technology, there will be "good" ones and "bad" ones...and all someone has to do is infect you with a bad one, and you are dead. Talk about "computer viri", more like "NanoTech Viri"

My NanoCock (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9389133)

Shoots hot gray goo!!!!

Grey Goo Not An Accident (2, Interesting)

WarriorPoet42 (762455) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389160)

  1. The idea of 'accidentally' creating an assembler (Drexler's term for the nanobots that can build other nanobots) that can run wild in the open is like the idea of shaking up a large box of parts and having a car that runs on spit and honey. These things will be designed to only be active under VERY special conditions. Say in a vat of some type of CHO under UV light say 10 times more intense than outside.
  2. The idea of John Q. building his own is silly as well. John Q. does not build small nuclear power plants, nor does he use home-built STMs. Even after several generations of assemblers, the hardware required for programming and design will be out of the Everyman's reach.
  3. Leaving aside power requirements, assemblers won't be universal machines that can tear apart anything and put anything back together. They'll be like custom proteins. One assembler will strip the H from H2O. And that's it. One might add an O to CO. And that's it. They are not magic, they are robotic assembling on a small scale. Think robotic assembly in a auto plant, and you will have the right idea.
  4. Finally, even if Drexler had an ulterior motive to make this statement, his motive was not that he sold out to DARPA (I hope you were kidding!). If anything, the initial scenario was made at a time when there was little publicity and it made sense to cover ever possible eventuality, no matter how remote. But now that it is in the news on almost a continual basis, and gaining spotlight in pop culture (witness Chriton's Prey. Whenever Chriton covers something, that is when America pays attention to it.) it is time to re-evaluate some of the more remote possibilities and calm the public down. The worst thing that could happen is that the public gets scared and Congress either bans research (allowing other countries to develop, but not allowing us to make a defense) or classifies everything (meaning we'll only see war-like applications for decades).

Is it just me (1)

neon777 (777242) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389201)

or is Prey possibly the worst book ever written. Seriously, I could write my own 300-page book about why Prey sucked ass.

Green Goo already beat the Grey Goo. (2, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389215)

What do you think Life is besides a small machine programmed to reproduce itself?

Organic life has already covered the planet, in green stuff.

I doubt that any man-made gray goo could compete with the Green Goo God made without a LOT of help. By the time we were good enough to make the gray goo beat the God's Green Goo, we would have already made safeguards such as Gray Goo Cops, little nanites whose sole job it is to rome the world looking for rogue nanites and eat them and reproduce more Gray Cops.

Organic based reproducers beat metals based ones before, and they will do it again if the silly puny little machines try to take over.

some kind of emergent behaviour (1)

PhilippeT (697931) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389235)

you mean like

emerge -U behaviour

Isn't one bad design all it takes? (2, Insightful)

MooseByte (751829) | more than 10 years ago | (#9389255)


"Eric Drexler now says nanomachines that self-replicate exponentially are unlikely ever to enter widespread use."

Why is that still not particularly comforting? Just one tragically (intentional or otherwise) bad design is all it could take, theoretically. Not to turn the earth to "goo", but to seriously screw the conditions we humans deem useful to our existence.

Not a few decades from now, but a century or so down the road when this stuff really picks up and the tools are more accessible. With every step of our advance, we seem to merely reinforce the reality that we're really just fancy homonids with an ever-increasing number of dangerous gadgets, mashing the buttons on the controls.

Humans are so convinced we're a required part of the fabric of the universe. But *poof* Gone. Nobody would care beyond the occasional underpaid archeological student of the next dominant sentient life form.

Maybe I should start planning what kind of confusing fossil record to leave behind. Time to find some cooling lava and a pair of Godzilla shoes.

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