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December 14th, 2003

Gray Goo is a small issue

Fear of runaway nanobots, or “gray goo,” is more of a public issue than a scientific problem. Gray goo as a result of out of control nanotechnology played a starring role in an article titled "The Gray Goo Problem" by Lawrence Osborne in today's New York Times Magazine. This article and other recent fictional portrayals of gray goo, as well as statements by scientists such as Richard Smalley, are signs of significant public concern. But although biosphere-eating goo is a gripping story, current molecular manufacturing proposals contain nothing even similar to gray goo. The idea that nanotechnology manufacturing systems could run amok is based on outdated information.


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