This is a condensed down list of the worst things atomically precise manufacturing and technology could be misused for.
The reader might want to not take in all at once and take a brake with more optimistic outlooks.
Note that one might argue that both the worst nightmares and the brightest utopias are both extreme cases that are extremely unlikely to come true in their full extent. The reality most likely lies somewhere in-between. The question is: How far can we push civilization from the generally considered bad stuff to the generally considered good stuff. The opportunities that atomically precise technology will bring should hopefully significantly outbalance the dangers presented here.
A word of warning: In many cases panic, alarmism and ensuing overreaction (e.g. total bans) with too limited understanding of the full breath of the situation can have worse effects than the danger would have brought if no action had been taken at all. This by itself could be added to the dangers (a "meta danger").
Every technology powerful enough to bring significant advances always comes with dangers involved too.
The plethora and level of scaryness of the dangers listed here is just one place where the (neutral and impartial) power of atomically precise manufacturing technology shows.
- 1 List of possible dangers that could arise with the rise of advanced AP technology
- 1.1 WASTE – perhaps the biggest (and most underrated) risk of them all
- 1.2 Software problems become even more physical
- 1.3 Making even more and much worse of a mess when trying to fix our old messes
- 1.4 Bad old chemisty risks times a million
- 1.5 Risks with politics and dangerous philosophies
- 1.6 Extreme right wing horror
- 1.7 Grey goo – perhaps a massively overrated risk
- 2 Waste
- 3 Possible classification
- 4 Controversial topics and things hard to talk about
- 5 Related
- 6 External links
List of possible dangers that could arise with the rise of advanced AP technology
WASTE – perhaps the biggest (and most underrated) risk of them all
- non degrading waste recycling (envirounment)
Software problems become even more physical
- building up on flawed software design (wikipedia:Technical debt)
- loss of unmaintained data (older building plans) due to dependence on giant library tree that changes and is not completely backed up (today most visible in the problem of archiving historic computer games) - "neo ephemeralism"
- vulnerability to malicious software. (See: self limitation for safety, ..)
- undermining of the basis for both gratis and free open source hardware to exist due to fear-based over-regulation
Making even more and much worse of a mess when trying to fix our old messes
- risky geoengineering going wrong.
- negative side effects of attempted cleanup after nuclear accidents (finely dispersed nanorobotic devices in the environment violating the "keep in machine phase guideline")
Bad old chemisty risks times a million
- easy production of explosives (e.g. solid sp3 nitrogen, solid quartz like carbon dioxide)
- easy production of simple poisons (e.g. HCN)
- easy production of drugs (may be hard for piezochemical mechanosynthesis though since it's basic form can't deal well with complex floppy molecules - see: synthesis of food)
Risks with politics and dangerous philosophies
- negative aspects of even more excessive surveillance that what already starts to transpire with current day technology (2021)
- development of new weaponry (e.g. interfacial drive based kinetic energy weapons)
- an arms race ?
Extreme right wing horror
Unethical perfectionism or whatever the actors perceive to be "perfect".
"Strength" as the single prime goal.
Usually associated with the extreme political right (oversimplifying things).
Note that gemstone metamaterial technology is definitely not about building some crazy military stuff
(robotic super-soldies or horrific killer drone-swarms or whatever)
It's just a neutral but immensely powerful technology.
A bit like "fire" (but much more difficult to attain) it can be used for both good and bad.
There are plenty of positive ways to use this technology in positive ways. (See: Opportunities)
Also there is
- a focus on making and keeping stuff recyclable and where needed there is even
- a focus on making products as deliberately weak and degradeable structures
- There are (bio)degradable (semi)gemstones. Like periclase is somewhat water soluble and other gemstones even more so.
- It will be desirable to design integrated intended breakage functionalities in strings and ropes and other stuff to prevent accidents
When something potentially extremely good turns into something pretty bad just because it happens too fast and is mismanaged
- social and economic dangers like detrimental effects of rapid and imbalanced economic change
- social and economic dangers like globally declining birth rates at a dangerous rate – (Material wealth tends to decrease birth rates.)
Grey goo – perhaps a massively overrated risk
- uncontrolled replication (toned down to more realistic levels)
(Related: reproduction hexagon and Mobility prevention guideline)
Albeit advanced APM has the potential to be an absolutely clean technology in production (since its primary waste products are only hot air and warm water) advanced APM would be a unprecedented wasteful technology in disposal if not built correctly since the products themselves must be considered waste once they become obsolete - and the products will become obsolete fast as we can see with today's pace of software improvement. Also the global production rate in mass or volume will be bigger since production will become so widespread and accessible.
- Recycling is not an option its an obligation that has to be thought of before creating advanced APM systems that can produce products that do not biodegrade in reasonable timespans.
Related to the waste problem
- recomposable microcomponents
- The two recycling classes of products: The ones that can be completely burned to gasses (C,H,O,N,S) &
The ones that produce slacks when burned (containing too: Si,Al,Ti,Fe,Na, and the wole remaining periodic table). See: Diamondoid waste incineration.
- amorphous slack of various elements is hard to deal with since blind atomically precise disassembly of unknown structures is a very hard problem.
- there's no AP disassembly (at least its a lot harder to do than AP assembly)
old:ABC vs new:CBRN
Please do not use the old (and outdated) classification classification ABC.
ABC was standing for: Atomic-hazard, Biohazard, Chemical-hazard.
- The benefit of easy remembrance does not outweigh
- the didactic damage it is capable to do and that it may have done.
Todays (2021 and before) experts want to see
- the old acronym ABC being superseded by
- the new acronym CBRN.
CBRN standing for: Chemical, Biological, Nuclear, Radiological.
CBRN is much less mnemonically helpful than ABC so opposing the use of the old its use may be a bit of a fight against windmills.
Still acronym replacement is pushed because but it stops a large group of non technical people from
confusing atoms with nuclei and consequently from making ill informed judgements e.g. when voting.
About the current (2021-04) English wikipedia pages abut "weapons of mass destruction":
- the English page does not even mention the old acronym and why it is so bad. Bad.
- the German page has a bold note on the old acronym right in the second paragraph of the intro. Better.
This may also be especially relevant for the German language room because it seems that
there people still seem to preferably call nuclear power-plants by the misleading name "atomic power-plants".
The unfortunately still common confusion between atoms and nuclei is also a problem for the
now newest adopted title for the technology that this wiki is about.
That is "atomically precise manufacturing (and technology)"
A better term may have been "chemical bond precise manufacturing (and technology)"
but unfortunately in the book "Radical Abundance" the term "atomically precise manufacturing (and technology)"
was introduced the atom nucleus confusion trapdoor was not averted by the author.
Poisons are already quite simple to make in high quantities with current day technology.
Gem-gum factories would make that even easier if no smart regulations at all will be included.
See main page: Poisons
Mainly referring to selective breeding and/or genetic engineering of infectious pathogenic agents.
Usually not referring to unhealthy effects from food originating from genetic engineering (and/or selective breeding).
As for the technology tackled in this wiki discussed in this wiki:
- The far term part of the technology could be very indirectly abused to do nasty things area. Similar techniques to: Food production
- There are good reasons to expect that any sufficiently towards gemstome metamaterial technology targeted "near term pathway technology" steers well clear of biohazardous risks.
What may come with biohazardous risks (of hard to predict magnitude) is a technology development path that
is not at all focussedly targeting towards the stiff nanosystems of gemstone metamaterial technology.
A technology pathway where people want to recreate the soft nanomachinery of life in a similar fashion as it already exists
Which is very much not the topic of this wiki.
We are talking about soft and floppy artificial membranes, vesticles and such here.
This technology is called synthetic biology.
Synthetic biology is still an interesting and potentially valuable research. No attempt on discreditation here. But:
- Synthetic biology is is not obviously directly relevant for getting to gem-gum tech ASAP.
- Synthetic biology can eventually bring bio-hazard risks (of hard to predict magnitude) while
such risk for near term pathway technology that is focussedly targeting gem-gum tech is for all practical purposes zero. Its increasingly stiff and dry construction brick blocks that are increasingly incompatible to biology after all.
Taking the path back to to make gem-gum technology compatible with biology again will take a lot of focussed effort. See gem-gum nanomedicine. That is a topic that lies even beyond the (in comparison simple) far term target of gem-gum factories.
R Radiological and N Nuclear
See main article: APM and nuclear technology
There's also the risk of abuse of X-rays from ultracompact optical particle accelerators.
Why not adding a "nanotechnological risk" to the list
Because it's to general.
This would be analogous to saying "macrotechnological risk".
Instead a prefix could be added like: nC, nB, nR, nN
But that's still to ambiguous. One could add the technology level like: n1C, n2C, n3C
but we won't go into such an overclassification rabbithole on this wiki unless it becomes really necessary.
Controversial topics and things hard to talk about
- Borderline SciFi concepts like: Transhumanism and Mind uploading - this links to: ethics, religions, core beliefs, all highly emotionally ladden
- Fission nuclear technology (especially near term on earth)- you know why ...
- Details about governance (it's the superset of politics) - who would have thought ...
- Who are "the bad guys" really? Especially in commercial and political interest contexts this is often far from clear cut.
- In more clear cut contexts: How much bad behavior can be excused on basis of unfortunate personal histories? Or rather how much can we afford to excuse?
And then there are those topics that would be dumb to even mention publicly.
Claim: Every sufficiently intellectual, curious and active person knows some of these.
And no, it's not the usual broadly known suspects like human trafficking of poor and unlucky
partly under-aged humans for sexual abuse and worse purposes.
These can and sometimes are publicly discussed. To a degree.
Thinking too much about all the potentially bad things that could be committed or could happen by accident or nature
can be a dangerous psychological down-spiral.
Hell has no bottom and it want's to suck you in when you peer to hard down the abyss of true horror, so better don't.
Suggestion: If in any way possible take breaks occupying yourself with more positive topics.
When thinking openly and publicly about what bad agents could do.
When thinking with the good intent to prevent and prepare for potential harmful actions of dangerous actors, then (if done carelessly)
it may actually give these bad agents inspirations and help in developing these bad tings.
It's the daily bread of ethical hackers, judging and juggling this dilemma.
It seems for now the far term gemstone metamaterial technology is still far enough away that most things
(that may eventually become critical in this regard) can still be discussed in the fully public open.
Once this era ends the secrets themselves can become the source of problems.
(wiki-TODO: this section needs its own main page)