Monday, March 13, 2006

The New Biology

There is so much talk in nanotech circles, even from the Singularity crowd, about nanobots, etc, enhancing the 'new human'. In this wonderful article titled I, Nanobot the author speaks of nanobiotechnology and how this could indeed create the new form of life that will supersede homo sapians, and could even eliminate us:

"So why listen to the voice of one who is not Ishmael, not Cassandra, not even Ralph Nader? Because I can tell you something that no one else can. I can tell you the exact moment when Homo sapiens will cease to exist. And I can tell you how the end will come. I can show you the exact design of the device that will bring us down. I can reveal the blueprint, provide the precise technical specifications. Long before we can melt the polar ice caps, or denude the rain forests, or colonize the moon, we will be gone. And we will not -- definitely will not -- end with a bang or a whimper. The human race will go to its extinction in a state of supreme exaltation, like an actor climbing the stairs to accept an Academy Award. We will exit the stage of existence thinking we are going to a spectacular party....

Scientists are on the verge of breaking the carbon barrier -- creating artificial life and changing forever what it means to be human. And we're not ready, predicts materials scientist Alan H. Goldstein.

He predicts, and warns about, the coming elimination of the barrier between living and nonliving materials with the emergence of "animats" (living materials) -- nanobiotechnology devices that can survive and function inside human beings, derive energy from biological metabolism, and copy themselves by molecular self-assembly.

When that moment happens in the near future, it very likely may be beyond our control: "A nanobiotechnology device that is smart enough to circulate through the body hunting viruses or cancer cells is, by definition, smart enough to exchange information with that human body. This means, under the right conditions, the 'device' could evolve beyond its original function."

He has formulated the three Laws of Nanobotics:

1. The fusion of nanotechnology and biotechnology, now called nanobiotechnology, will result in the complete elimination of the barrier between living and nonliving materials.

2. It is not possible to ensure that devices created using the techniques of nanobiotechnology will only transmit molecular information to the target system.

3. The carbon barrier will be eliminated when humans create the first synthetic molecular device capable of changing the state of a living system via direct, intentional transfer of specific chemical information from one to the other."

Recommended reading!

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