Sunday, February 05, 2006

Nanotechnology, Grey Goo, and Genetic Engineering

The grey goo scare was first created by Dr K. Eric Drexler, the "father of nanotechology, in his 1986 book Engines of Creation. Grey goo is the prediction that nano-robots will self-replicate, consume all living matter on earth, and thus cause the end of the world. The grey goo scare was reiterated by Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy. The concern of grey goo was that the self-replicating robots would be an accident. However Drexler and Chris Phoenix, Director Director of Research at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN), later point out that self-replication would not be likely to happen as an accident but as a design. Drexler's change of mind toward grey goo noted that self-replicating robots would not be used in nanofactories. While Drexler and Phoenix make it clear that grey goo will not be a major threat, there however other dangers of nanotechnology. Some of the potential dangers include unpredictable diseases resulting from consuming genetically engineered foods, internal espionage from restrictive regulations, nanotech arms race, and widespread environmental damage.

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