Nanotechnology in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Nanotechnology in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

In their current issue, the folks who usually focus on nuclear war take a look ahead to nanotech war, via a book review by CRN’s Mike Treder of the book Military Nanotechnology: Potential Applications and Preventive Arms Control by Jürgen Altmann.

Deeply researched and carefully worded, Military Nanotechnology is an overview of an emerging technology that could trigger a new arms race and gravely threaten international security and stability. Jürgen Altmann’s academic style allows the reader to assess nanotechnology’s perilous military implications in plain, dispassionate terms. What we face might sound like science fiction, but, in this book, we have the facts laid bare, and they are hair-raising enough without embellishment.

See also the earlier review by James Lewis, Research Analyst here at Foresight Nanotech Institute:

The goal of Military Nanotechnology: Potential applications and preventive arms control “is to do a first assessment of the implications that NT weapons and other military NT systems could entail, and to present first considerations on preventive limitations.” This goal is decisively achieved.

Although the book’s description of molecular nanotech is very seriously out of date, it sounds like it still is a contribution to the debate despite this major flaw. —Christine

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  1. James G. November 17, 2007 at 6:49 am - Reply

    Sounds like a good book. On the out-dated concept bit, I feel people are just saying nanobots are out-dated designs so people won’t panic. Yes, it’s better to have desktop manufacturing devices, but how are you going to build the first one? It would have to be built atom by atom, and you would need nanobots to build it that way, which means they will have to be built first which means no it is not an out-dated concept. Nanobots only have a few billion (roughly) atoms to be built in precise position as opposed to a desktop manufacturing plant’s tens of trillions or so, it will be far easier to produce a nanobot without MNT meaning they will almost certainly come first.

  2. Christine Peterson November 19, 2007 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Hi James — I think the argument made on this topic is that nanoscale robotic devices need not be self-replicating, as early designs suggested. —Christine

  3. James G. November 20, 2007 at 5:47 am - Reply

    Well that still leaves the problem of how are you going to manufacture enough of them without making them self-replicating? That is what I was trying to say in my first post on this topic. People talk of not needing self-replicating nanobots because of desktop manufacturing systems, but it’ll take too many years to make just one of those without self-replicating nanobots. The argument doesn’t make sense in my opinion.

  4. Nanoman November 21, 2007 at 7:16 pm - Reply

    Answer: Self Replicating Stand Alone Nanobots are not necessary for Exponential Manufacturing. Various designs (and yes more work needs to be done) show that a system as a whole can be self-growing in an exponential way (provided with sufficient energy, materials, and information) without individual units being self replicating.

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