The Dangers Of Nanotechnology
If you have read my previous hub ‘The Age Of Nanotechnology’ then you would be aware that as a species, we humans are on the verge of a massive technological revolution; one which would change the way in which we work, live our lives, etc. forever. Unfortunately whenever we humans come across a game-changing technology, we are often faced not only with new abilities but new threats. And with the advent of Nanotechnology, we humans will be faced with threats that 30 years ago, we could never had even imagined.
Throughout the second half of the 20th century, the world has faced the threat of Nuclear Annihilation. From the cold war stand-offs between USA and former Soviet Union to the fear of terrorist groups gaining hold of nuclear weaponry, the 20th century has certainly seen humanity potential extinction several times (and most people aren’t even aware that they were ever in danger of being wiped out). Despite the threat posed by the splitting of the atom, this technology has also enabled mankind to develop safe forms of energy and treatments for the cure to cancer.
Unfortunately with Nanotechnology, the dangers are severe. One of the first dangers which we would face as a civilization would be the intentions of the organisation/government who is able to create the first swarm of assemblers (trillions of molecular sized machines). With such a swarm, the controllers of such a swarm could literally hold the world to ransom. For with such a swarm of tiny machines which could alter the molecular make up of matter, they could create almost anything from atom size up, (such as powerful jet fighters, etc.) or worse still, break down existing objects into pure atoms.
If a group of rogue scientists with questionable morals were to ever become the first to develop to develop Nanotechnology, they could literally wipe out any country in hours; and when I say wipe out, I don’t mean cripple the country’s infrastructure, I mean literally wipe out. Every building, person, etc. of that country would be taken apart atom by atom. With such a scary scenario, one can imagine a James Bond Supervillain tucked away on some private island somewhere, holding the world to ransom with a vast swarm of assemblers. Any craft, missiles, etc. which went near the island could be torn apart instantly by a protective field of these assemblers.
Assuming though we overcome the hurdle of the first developers of Nanotechnology being power-hungry villains, the threat of Nanotechnology has certainly not passed. As with Nuclear weaponry, the moment another country develops such technology, (as the Soviet Union indeed was) the threat of nuclear annihilation went beyond that of a singular countries desire for global conquest to the threat of two equally powerful enemies having a nuclear standoff with each other.
So even when other organisations/governments develop their own Nano-technological swarm of assemblers, there is no reason why both groups might not go to war with each other, with each both attacking the others resources, etc. by tearing them apart atom by atom. Science fiction writers and futurologists for years have envisioned a war where two sides send their swarms of assemblers to attack each other. The resulting battlefield would be very chaotic, one which no one can imagine what it would be like, due to the fact nothing has ever experienced such a thing.
Many have even given a name for what the Battlefield would consist of once two swarms have had an all-out war with each other – Grey Goo. This is because after two assemblers have destroyed one another, what is left would be just pure random molecules, atoms, etc. not particularly arranged in any particular form which we can currently imagine.
One can only imagine that when Nanotechnology comes into being within the next 10-20 years from now, the people in charge of this technology (as well as our leaders) would be sensible enough to put this technology into good use – wiping out all diseases, illnesses, solving world hunger, etc. Otherwise if this technology were to ever be used for a darker means, it could be a dark day for mankind!