X-Message-Number: 21654
From: "MIKE TREDER" <>
Subject: Re: CryoNet #21646 - #21651
Date: Wed, 23 Apr 2003 11:07:39 -0400

My response to James Swayze (on the Cryonet list), who takes exception to 
CRN's highlighting of nanotech dangers...

>Message #21646
>Date: Tue, 22 Apr 2003 03:28:01 -0700
>From: James Swayze <>
>Subject: And Chicken Little said...
>References: <>
> > Message #21642
> > From: "MIKE TREDER" <>
> > Subject: CRN publishes list of future nanotech dangers
> > Date: Mon, 21 Apr 2003 20:27:55 -0400
> >
> > After months of study, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
> > (CRN) has identified 11 separate, significant risks of advanced
> > nanotechnology. CRN is also researching solutions that may > effectively 
>address each of those risks. Descriptions of all the > risks -- and 
>proposed solutions -- are now posted online at > 
> >
> > Chris Phoenix, CRN's Director of Research, emphasizes that these are
> > preliminary findings. "These new web pages summarize the existing > 
>state of our understanding of molecular nanotechnology, its risks > and 
>problems, and possible solutions that can promote safe use > while avoiding 
>unsafe or irresponsible use," says Phoenix. "Some of > our opinions will 
>probably change. We are publishing these results > now because we are 
>looking for comments and criticism from > interested and informed parties."
>Here's one short and dirty criticisms. STOP GIVING COMFORT AND AMMO TO THE 
>ENEMY! It's bad enough to have the Bill Joys, Jeremy Rifkins, Leon Kasses 
>and McKibbon types ranting that nanotech is dangerous but to have our own 
>people join with "the sky is falling" chorus only gives them the "ah ha!" 
>factor, "Ah ha! See! Their own people say it's dangerous!". I know you 
>think you are heading them off at the pass
>but I strongly feel even only a tiny bit of doubt of the safety of
>nanotech on our part goes a huge amount, AN EXPONENTIAL AMOUNT, toward 
>bolstering their arguments.

On the contrary, if we were not to acknowledge doubt about the safety of 
nanotech, we would be dismissed as unrealistic, if not ignorant. We would be 
seen as not qualified to participate in rational discourse about the future 
of this technology.

>I'm not saying deny there is danger. I am saying stop highlighting it
>so much. Make them work for their criticisms and fight against that wrong 
>headed junk science at every opportunity but don't give them ideas! I 
>personally have faith in science and scientists to work the kinks out 
>without amateur meddling!

I have great faith in science and scientists as well, to perform good 
science and make good decisions so far as their expertise enables them. But 
most scientists will tell you that they are not necessarily qualified to 
make policy recommendations or advise on implementation of measures to 
alleviate societal disruption. In fact, many scientists, including Eric 
Drexler, have commended CRN for the work we are doing.

>Please take my amateur comment in the proper context. To whit, I don't know 
>if you, Mike Tredder, have a degree in nanotechnology that gives you 
>expertise to judge what may or may not be at some future nexus dangerous 
>use of nanotechnology but
>even if you did you could not know everything about it. In other words it 
>requires all of science to make those jugements. If you do have such 
>degrees I think your and anyone else similar, those involved with you, best 
>efforts would be to instead get involved behind the scenes where dangers 
>are dealt with _quietly_ before they get a chance to upset the ignorant 
>unwashed masses. I for one am damn well tired of
>those ignorant imbecile inadequately educated about science unwashed
>masses coercing their representatives into outlawing the very things I and 
>so many others, the entire human race, need for future and current 

Concern for the survival of the human race is the motivation behind CRN's 
activities. After doing a close examination of potential benefits and risks 
of molecular nanotechnology (MNT), we are convinced that the dangers are 
great. We also believe that good solutions may be found, but that a sense of 
urgency is clearly appropriate.

CRN's research leads us to conclude that MNT will arrive suddenly, perhaps 
within the next ten years, and almost certainly within the next twenty. If 
it takes the world by surprise, we will not have systems in place that can 
deal with it. No single organization or mindset can create a full and 
appropriate policy--and inappropriate policy will only make things worse. A 
combination of separate policy efforts will get in each other's way, and the 
risks will slip through the cracks. By the time MNT arrives, we must have 
accomplished several things that each take significant time. First, we must 
understand the risks. Second, make policy. Third, design institutions. 
Fourth, create the institutions--at all levels including international 
levels, where things move slowly. This could easily take twenty years.  If 
advanced nanotechnology could arrive in ten or fifteen years, then we'd 
better get to work. (For more, see http://www.crnano.org/action.htm)

>Perhaps my perspective a bit more sensitive. Perhaps? Nay, it damn well is! 
>For those that don't know it yet I am a quadriplegic. Not only that but, I 
>have diabetes, only one kidney remaining, a debilitating and chronically 
>painful bone disease as well as a likewise chronic pain causing nerve 
>disorder via the paralysis and I am but weeks away from possible double 
>amputation. So maybe I am
>just a little bit closer to the issue when science such as stem cell
>research, somatic cell nuclear transfer, germ line genetic therapy, even 
>any and all manner of anti aging research, nanotechnology and whatever else 
>the neo luddites fear, come under fire from those ignorant unwashed 
>uneducated superstitious masses. Get the point?!

I feel for you and share your desire to see the future get here as quickly 
as possible. Thank you for sharing your point of view.

Mike Treder

Executive Director, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology - 
Director, World Transhumanist Association - http://transhumanism.org
Executive Advisory Team, Extropy Institute - http://extropy.org
Founder, Incipient Posthuman Website - http://incipientposthuman.com
KurzweilAI "Big Thinker" - http://kurzweilai.net/bios/frame.html

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