Reynolds advocates faster nano/AI R&D for safety reasons

Reynolds advocates faster nano/AI R&D for safety reasons

In Popular Mechanics, longtime Foresight friend Prof. Glenn Reynolds looks at the future of nanotech and artificial intelligence, among other things looking at safety issues, including one call that potentially dangerous technologies be relinquished.  He takes a counterintuitive stance, which we’ve discussed here at Foresight over the years:

But I wonder if that’s such a good idea. Destructive technologies generally seem to come along sooner than constructive ones—we got war rockets before missile interceptors, and biological warfare before antibiotics. This suggests that there will be a window of vulnerability between the time when we develop technologies that can do dangerous things, and the time when we can protect against those dangers. The slower we move, the longer that window may remain open, leaving more time for the evil, the unscrupulous or the careless to wreak havoc. My conclusion? Faster, please.

OK, it’s counterintuitive, but it may be right.  —Chris Peterson

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  1. Erin November 20, 2009 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    This is a very good point Mr Reynolds makes. I have thought long and hard on MNT based weapons and manufacturing systems and how they appear to be developing and how they can develop. The idea that we will have a “general universal replicator” as soon as we can do repeatable mechanosynthesis does not seem likely, instead, I estimate steps and levels of greater capability, starting with basic assembly systems. The potential danger of this is thus: We have a world of people with mentalities and hatreds developed over thousands of years, in the Pre Assembler Days. Once even basic somewhat cheap assembler systems can be made, say ones limited to biochemistries, or graphene, or silicates, even before the advanced active shields can be made, or before general replicators can be made, you WILL most assuredly have people who want to abuse them earlier ones.

  2. Tim Tyler November 22, 2009 at 7:14 am - Reply

    If progress is generally good, faster progress may well be better.

  3. Valkyrie Ice November 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    Considering the current state of DNA manipulating technology, we may face the possibility of a simple nanoscale assembly device capable of building simple MEM based devices as early as the end of the decade. With the possible advances in microrobotics, swarm behavior, and the recent discovery that a single CN can act as a radio, it is quite possible that complex micro robots could be an early development long before nanoscale versions. Sure it might be as huge as an ant, but it could still be a highly dangerous development if used as a weapon.

    It is not just nanoscale devices which could pose a threat. If kasimir well devices or LENR prove viable power sources, even such devices as our current level of technology can construct could be an overwhelmingly powerful weapon. With simple computers, a self renewing powersupply, and a modified RC airplane, someone with a grudge could cripple any number of military installations with a few hundred drone bombs launched from a continent away. For the cost of one military jet, you could build ten thousand minidrones.

    It is not only Nanotechnology which contains frightening potential threat. The sooner we develop technologies capable of creating a defense, the safer our entire world will become.

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