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Home > News > Nanoassemblers: A Likely Threat?

June 25th, 2007

Nanoassemblers: A Likely Threat?

Abstract:
In his popular book Engines of Creation, author and innovator, Eric Drexler, proposed the concept of a nanoassembler, a tiny robot equipped with the ability to construct with the aid of many others, useful objects by identifying raw materials at the atomic, molecular or, at least, the nanometer scale, then assembling these tiny constituents into a complex structure. The nanoassembler would also have the ability to reproduce itself in anticipation of a given task, then, presumably, disassemble those nanoassemblers no longer needed, harvesting the raw materials for subsequent projects. Several individuals (including Drexler himself) have expressed concern about the prospect of the dust-particle- sized nanoassemblers replicating themselves uncontrollably, leading to large parts of the earth's surface being covered in a blanket of nanoassembler-dust, a material christened "gray goo" by Drexler. A great deal of concern has been expressed regarding personal and environmental risk posed by technological developments in nanotechnology. The threat posed by the possible development of nanoassemblers depends, of course, on the range of capabilities that such nanoassemblers could possess.

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