Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Recipe for elephant sandwich

From: Chris Phoenix
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 9:51 AM
To: Howard Lovy

Sometime in the next few weeks we'll be announcing publication of a big peer-reviewed paper that demonstrates just how easy it is to build a human-scale nanofactory from a single fabricator/assembler. This indicates that MNT may be far more valuable, and happen quite a bit sooner and more abruptly, than most people expect.

From: Howard Lovy
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 9:55 AM
To: Chris Phoenix

Sounds great! Now, be careful you don't get too detailed on that nanofactory. We don't want it to turn into another "Anarchists' Cookbook," with teenagers building assemblers in their parents' basements!


From: Chris Phoenix
Sent: Wednesday, October 01, 2003 10:52 AM
To: Howard Lovy

The paper is like the recipe for "Elephant sandwich."

1) One elephant
2) Two slices bread...

The paper doesn't say how to build the fabricator, just that once you get one built, bootstrapping the nanofactory isn't too hard -- assuming some serious but straightforward design work has been done in advance.

In most cases, I'm not too worried about spreading information about how to do MNT. Those who have any hope of funding an MNT effort can figure out anything I can. And it's better for the rest of us to know what they could be up to. By the time a fabricator is developed, the stuff I'm writing about will be pretty trivial, and -- like all information -- very hard to keep out of the hands of teenagers.

Eventually, of course, it will be easy for teenagers to bootstrap MNT in the basement. Before that happens, we'd better be ready to deal with it. But much earlier than that, we will have faced another danger that I think is just as bad if not worse: some totalitarian government developing MNT and taking over the world. If I'm right about how quickly MNT (including products) can be developed once a certain level is reached, whoever gets it first will become immensely powerful almost immediately.

Chris Discuss