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Nanotechnological Battlespace/Part 2

S.NET/Day 3-This is Jürgen Altmann’s respnse to MBF’s comment:

I find this assertion about a nanotechnological arms race not being a
bad thing fairly dangerous.

There is still the possibility of nation-state war. The author is correct in stating that it would be counter-productive, but still these nations prepare for war. We have an on-going arms race which can lead to higher instability, and probably will if nothing will be done internationally to stop dangerous developments. This holds for several nanotechnology-enabled new weapons, in particular in the field of new, targeted biological or chemical weapons.

So things can go wrong, and from time to time, things have gone wrong or have nearly gone wrong. Think of nuclear crises during the Cold War.

So hoping that nation-states would not go to war because it would be counter-productive means hoping that no crisis will escalate out of control, say, through feed-back loops between two or more systems of early warning and control that eagerly watch each other for indications of attack that can then escalate rapidly through misunderstanding, or computer error, or whatever, from crisis into war. So the author advocates too optimistic an approach to the question of whether arms races are dangerous or not.

My second point is that the author says the arms race of the Cold War was positive because we got micro-electronics and other technologies from it. Yes, some technologies were developed first for the military and later diffused into the civilian sector. However, there are other sources for innovation beyond military ones. A great portion of military innovation is not usable or not required in civilian industry. Usually it would be much more productive to invest government funds directly into civilian innovation.

So I think the author is under-estimating the risk of on-going arms races. He is under-estimating the risk of war occurring, despite its being unproductive. The argument that an arms race is needed for technological innovation is simply not fully correct.

1 comment to Nanotechnological Battlespace/Part 2

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