July 30th, 2009


Freedom and Nanotechnology

One blog I used to follow closely was that of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. This was two guys, Chris Phoenix and Mike Treder, trying to get a head start on the ethical and legal issues that will come up when we have efficient molecular-level manufacturing. For a while I was the resident skeptic, doing a lengthy critique of Chris's since-abandoned nanofactory design and generally pointing out reasons things would take longer and be harder than they were suggesting. The technical arguments were with Chris. My exchanges with Mike were limited, usually just a "not everyone believes this" comment when he posted a point of leftist dogma as a fact. Eventually I decided I was repeating myself--making hardware manufacturing as quick and easy as compiling code will not make creating new systems effortless--and stopped reading them. Hopefully there's still some engineers reminding them that complexity is difficult.

I have no doubt that some people have been commenting to represent the libertarian viewpoint, however. Mike's been annoyed enough to publish a manifesto calling for libertarians to be banned from Transhumanism. Clearly there's limits to his attachment to diversity. Instapundit suggested a libertarian-free transhumanist future would like Huxley's Brave New World. Replace soma and sleep-teaching speakers with direct brain feeds for propaganda and positive reinforcement and it might not be far off. That's the kind of world you get when a committee of "experts" decides what the best way to live is and imposes it uniformly on everyone. Right now even the strongest governments are limited in how much control they can exert because of the inefficiency of using human enforcers. Cybernetic oppression can cause a lot more damage.
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