Nanotechnology and The Ultimate Terrorists

from the choice-of-weapons dept.

There has been much discussion on Nanodot recently about regulating nanotechnology. Some of the scarier scenarios of abuse come from the threat of nanoweapons unleashed by terrorists. Jessica Stern's book, The Ultimate Terrorists, offers a useful framework concerning the choice of weapons by terrorists, within which potential threats from terrorist use of nanoweapons can be considered. Bryan
Read More
for a review.

Administering Nanotechnology

from the bell-the-cat dept.
Assuming that complete anarchy is not the optimal result of nanotech, some sort of administration, coordination, policy-making, and regulation seems desirable. An organization that can do this will have to represent governments, corporations, and individuals; balance many issues at once; be credible to, and trusted by, people of widely varying ideologies; act rapidly, yet with prudence… the list goes on.
Read more for an attempt to design such a group.

Nanotech regulation: Let's keep the debate alive

from the survival-matters dept.

Chris Phoenix's essay "Can we have "some" regulation of nanotech?" has generated a lot of good discussion. Since the original post has now slipped off the front page of Nanodot, this post is made to encourage continued discussion. Click here to go to the discussion, or on Read More below for an overview of the discussion so far.

Can we have "some" regulation of nanotech?

from the strategies-for-survival dept.
ChrisPhoenix writes "Human societies have felt the need to regulate, or try to regulate, many different kinds of technologies. All of these technologies have been far less powerful than a mature nanotechnology. Is regulation of nanotech a good idea? If so, what form could it take? If not, is it preventable? Is limited, effective regulation a possibility?"

Read more for the rest of Chris's essay and invitation to discussion.

Merkle in Spectrum: preventing nanotech abuse

from the white-hats-must-move-fast dept.
Senior Associate Ralph Merkle has an opinion piece in IEEE Spectrum on preventing nanotech abuse. Excerpt: "Deliberate abuse, the misuse of a technology by some small group or nation to cause great harm, is best prevented by measures based on a clear understanding of that technology. Nanotechnology could, in the future, be used to rapidly identify and block attacks. Distributed surveillance systems could quickly identify arms buildups and offensive weapons deployments, while lighter, stronger, and smarter materials controlled by powerful molecular computers would let us make radically improved versions of existing weapons able to respond to such threats. Replicating manufacturing systems could rapidly churn out the needed defenses in huge quantities. Such systems are best developed by continuing a vigorous R&D program, which provides a clear understanding of the potential threats and countermeasures available."

Difficulty of enforcing ethical standards

from the tough-question dept.
Sharad Bailur writes …I don't see the development in the forseeable future, of a system which is valid the world over, in which ethical standards which everybody agrees should be followed, are enforced. For instance how does one explain the millions of computer viruses floating around in the internet ether? If ethical standards cannot be enforced by some sort of international agreement, they will be followed more as an exception rather than as a rule. Besides, how does one enforce international agreements in the face of competing national sovereignties? We can at best by today's means isolate and blockade certain countries like Libya, Iraq and North Korea. In the face of a nanotech future these measures are surely hopelessly inadequate. How do we deal with this?" Read More for the full post.

The concept of evil in the nano age

from the bad-guys-shall-always-be-with-ye dept.
From India, Sharad Bailur writes "Frankly I am quite overwhelmed by what I have been reading these last few days beginning with Ed Regis's book, Nano just a few days ago. I had read the Feynman speech of 1969 [CP: make that 1959] some years ago and it seemed an interesting if far out idea and now this. I have ordered for the original Drexler bible Engines of Creation and expect to get it in another three weeks or so. I am interested in how absolute human evil can be dealt with in the nano age. I have a feeling that this is a problem that could turn out much more difficult than the optimistic assessment of most nano scientists."Read More for the rest of Sharad's post.