Addicted to novelty since 2001

Forget About Nukes, Does Saddam Have Tiny Robots?

Recently I’ve being reading a far bit about the development of weapons of mass destruction. It seems apropos. A couple of years back, Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, wrote a lengthy polemic in Wired about his big three fears of the 21st century: genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics. He says:

The 21st-century technologies – genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (GNR) – are so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of accidents and abuses. Most dangerously, for the first time, these accidents and abuses are widely within the reach of individuals or small groups. They will not require large facilities or rare raw materials. Knowledge alone will enable the use of them.

The article is called “Why the future doesn’t need us,” and while Mr. Joy’s not expert in these fields, but it makes for a pretty compelling read.

Joy was quoted in this article, which proposes an “Inner Space” weapons treaty on nanotechnology. If 10% of what Joy describes should come to pass, this is an excellent idea.