And now, a word from our polar opposite…

Ray Kurzweil has has a piece in Forbes on his vision of the combination of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology. According to him, we’ll have AI nanobots crawling bloodstream, repairing us, and augmenting our senses. In 20 years.

Umm… yeah.

Now, I’m far less a technoparanoid than a certain other someone around here, but allow me to point out the issues posed by this setup. Like, for example, what if all those nanobots in your bloodstream aren’t doing what you really want them to? Nanobots might be able to zap cancer cells, but who zaps them when they get out of line? And how do you prevent someone from hiijacking your nanobot net? I tend to worry less about this sort of technology in the hands of Evil Big Government or Evil Large Corporations (well, same thing, really, these days, aren’t they?) than I am the disaffected mysanthrope.

And, on the general skeptical side, it’s usually the case that there are always unforseen issues that crop up that make the early rosy-future forcasts never come true. You know, those forecasts like how nuclear energy would make electricity so cheap no one would bother metering it (and having just paid a whopper of an electric bill to support my AC habit, that one particularly amuses me this month). Or the ever popular flying cars. Or countless others.

But, on the other hand, technology usually doesn’t live up to its worst potentials, either. We didn’t nuke ourselves in the 20th century. We didn’t use (many) chemical or biological weapons against each other.


  1. Blood Music, by Greg Bear.

    I’ve had it on my shelf for a long time but have never read it. Evidently the plot is that human-engineered “intelligent cells” inside human’s blood form a swarm-mind consciousness and start calling the shots. (Or something like that — as I said, I haven’t read it.)

    Depending on my mood, I’m as much in favor as my own indefinite good health (as opposed to getting old and dying) as the next guy. Only, I don’t think I’ll sign up for the alpha or beta test of these intelliegnt swarming nanobots inside me. Think I’ll hang around for the second or third major release. . .

  2. Thanks for the “countless others” link. I was amazed, actually, at how many predictions were sort-of right.

    The other day I walked with some techies through the big Apple store on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue. We had fun filling up a DUAL 30“ display with a zillion windows. OSX has a thing that will make each open window small enough so that they can all be simultaneously displayed side by side. You’re meant to only have enough to pick the one previously burried window that you actually want, before returning to normal. On this baby, you could actually read the small windows.

    Anyway, there was a small display wall of external disk drives, including a bunch of boxes of — I kid you not — terrabyte drives. How long ago did the contents of all the world’s libraries exceed the capacity of that display case? Yesterday?

    One of us said, ”Hey, it’s the future.“

    I said, ”Hey, it’s the present.”

    Then we strode down the lighted glass open stairway and out to the night-time street where a bus was talking to passengers. I felt like I was in any movie of a Philip K. Dick novel.

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