Magazine article New Internationalist

Grey Goo-Lash

Magazine article New Internationalist

Grey Goo-Lash

Article excerpt

The scientist who first warned that human-made self-replicating nanobots could theoretically run amok and turn the planet and everything on it into a 'grey goo', has recently tried to calm public fears of robotic Armageddon. Writing in the journal Nanotechnology, Eric Drexler reassures us that 'all risk of accidental runaway replication can be avoided'.

The grey goo scenario was first posited by Drexler in his seminal book on nanotechnology, Engines of Creation, in which he describes how small nano-scale robots could be built to replicate themselves using any organic material. Drexler warned that these self-replicating nanobots could 'leak' into the wild and pretty soon we'd all be up to our knees in grey sludge competing for the remainder of the planet's resources with microscopic earth-munching robot swarms.

Drexler regrets having mentioned the grey goo scenario since for some strange reason this put many investors off nanotechnology and prompted politicians to put the brakes on some research. …

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