Grey Goo Eats the Earth --- Film At 11

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From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Sun Sep 17 2000 - 03:37:47 PDT

Jeff Bone writes:
> A while back I mentioned hearing an estimate of how fast grey goo could eat the
> planet. This isn't the thing I'd heard before, but another treatment of same:

1) old bits
2) reproduction rate is based on assumptions like strictly sequential
   mechanosynthetic processes. There is a lot of uncertainty in the figures.

It has to be a weapon, and if you deploy it before people have burned
a lot of time about thinking about countermeasures and building them,
it will be Ragnar0k allright. A countermeasure/goo equilibrium might
still burn out a quantitative fraction of organics as fuel. Active
shield for every patch of lichen? On what, cold fusion power?

Obvious policy impact:

1) Fund goo and passive and active countermeasure research *now*,
   best in virtual sandbox simulators, and then in laboratories on
   stable orbits outside of Earth's gravitational well. On the long
   run this means we have to switch substrate to mechanosynthetic
   processes -- the only long-term solution
2) Control information flow on design of free-environment capable
   autoreplicators, especially those constructed by and utilizing
   evolutionary algorithms
3) Invest in space development *now* (notice that purely spaceborne goo
   would be just as bad, especially if it evolves quickly)

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