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>Last night I heard an interview on All Things Considered (National Public Radio) with Bill Joy, the co-founder & chief scientist at Sun Microsystems (SUNW). He was talking about the potential benefits and harm of Genetic Engineering, Nanotechnology and Robotics<

Lest anyone think that Bill Joy is new to all of this, let me point out that he was a participant at the first Foresight Conference on Nanotechnology, this took place in October 1989. That made it even more disconcerting when I read an excerpt on his concerns. He was quoting, of all things, the Unabomber's manifesto (ironic, because I could easily have imagined Ted K sending Bill a little package back in those days before the bombing was stopped). The excerpt made it appear that Bill thought that individual nanobots would be self replicating. This is a common misconception. Self-replication is important for us, of course, (that is the only way we will be able to produce macroscopic quantities of stuff with MNT). But having individual 'bots able to "live" outside a controlled environment and able to replicate there is undesirable on two counts. First, there is the safety concern to which Bill himself alluded. In addition to this, the task of designing nanobots that are so flexible and capable adds an unreasonable and totally unnecessary amount of complexity to the task of implementing MNT. It would be like NASA, back in the days of the Apollo program, saying "Let's skip the Moon and head straight for Mars". Getting whole systems that can make copies of themselves is enough of a challenge for those working on MNT, I can assure you of that. Does the impression from the excerpt that I saw reflect what he said in the interview, Maria?

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