Michael Anissimov has an article which mentions the inevitability of global governance in a future with full blown molecular manufacturing nanofactories. This case has been made by some others that the revolutionary manufacturing capabilities of unrestricted nanofactories would require extreme security measures. If someone could do whatever they want with a atomically precise nanofactory, they could use it to produce more nanofactories and then with a large number produce weapons to overwhelm others.
There are many things that go into this.
1. What is the scale of likely threat/risk scenarios and how are they limited ?
2. What is the likely security enhancement of global governance and institutions and what are the alternative security measures ?
3. What is the likely path that we seem to be on getting to full blown molecular manufaturing nanofactories ?
4. Intel is an example of a modern fabrication company that has been able to remain dominant over decades
Threat/Risk of Nanofactories
The risk of nanofactories is somewhat like the kind of threat that we face today with computer viruses like Conflicker which take over 12 million computers and then use those computers as zombies to attack other machines for denial of service or for other purposes.
However, not all computer viruses are equal and neither would all nanofactories and the knowledge of the best designs for weapons and security systems and for nanofactories would not be equally shared.
I think it is unlikely that a small rogue group will be first to develop full blown molecular manufacturing. We are on track with powerful DNA/biological Nanotechnology capabilities but those are not on a path to enable vast military superiority. Those with this capability will have stronger bioweapons capabilities and possibly genetic enhancement capabilities. The military capabilities are enhancers to existing systems and people.
Security, Laws and Governance
What would be the definitional range of “global government” ?
Is it just enforcement of some common global laws ? or technological restrictions ?
There are already many federal governments and single political nations like the United States or Canada. However there are different laws at the state and province levels for many things. Also, there is non-universal effective enforcement of laws.
There were16,000-18000 murders in the US, each year 1997-2007. Almost 90,000-100,000 rapes each year. Vancouver in Canada has 135 gangs fighting over about C$7 billion of drug business in the city.
There is clearly a massive range of effectiveness in enforcing laws and also where there is state sponsored murder and rape. Stalin, and other communists had a pretty bad track record.
If there was some effectiveness with something like Conflicker attacking US government and US military computer systems and also China and Russia systems including the loss of life, would that spur the establishment of a global government ? I would say no it would not. The intelligence forces would track down the human actors and the hubs of illicit computer activity and shut them down. Where national sovereignty was an issue the governments involved would be required to cooperate and if they did not then national and possibly military pressure would be applied.
I think that it is becoming more possible and will be more possible in a world with MM/MNT to influence countries and states to improve effectiveness in enforcing common laws and it would also be possible to detect and intervene against MM-WMD in a deniable way against places with inferior MNT.
BTW: The Battlestar Galactica scenario where Cylons hack all of the security in one go is some kind of fairy tale where idiots make one “key” and only “one door” to their whole military systems. There should be clear means for local control and security to over-ride remote/central operations.
The Path from here to Molecular Manufacturing Nanofactories
We are passing through a range of increasing capable rapid manufacturing systems (a billion dollar industry now) and through DNA nanotechnology. These are capabilities where leading countries like the USA, China, Japan, UK, Europe and others have the most capability and where small groups are far less productive than the overall systems.
The final, possibly rapid scale up from advanced DNA nanotechnology and advanced near molecular precision factories up to more capable and compact nanofactories will not be a race with a single player.
Also, the military capability bar will be rising for an individual or group to develop weapons to a level of global mayhem maker when there is nanofactory level MM. A few schmucks with millions of UAVs and missiles seems like a big deal now. But on the other side of MM, it would be like the AK-47 nutcase with some pipe bombs now.
The military UAVs have to have useful range, speed and acceleration and resistance to broadbased detection and defensive systems.
Electromagnetic pulse weapons appear to be heading to wide deployment. So any UAV, missiles will need to be hardened against EMP.
If someone develops fullblown diamondoid – nanofactory MNT, the game should be refining the tech, energy sources and space capability to race to kardashev level 2. Transforming the asteroid belt and the moons. So nations that have fullblown diamondoid nanofactory capabilities should be using their systems to convert trillions upon trillions of tons of matter into systems. Anyone trying to step up into the manufacturing and arms race will be easily detected and countered before they can get far along the path.
There is also no need for official governance of what are currently other nations, because then the dominating country may have to extend citizenship and rights. The current system of keeping the weaker countries and citizens in check while not extending citizenship and rights is the more efficient system. If you actually take over then you have the headaches and responsibility of actually running a place that is often filled with (from your perspective) losers and schmucks. You can step in and stop what you really do not want to have them doing without the cost of and problems of taking all the way over.
4. Intel is an example of a modern microscopically precise fabrication company and is instructive for future first movers in molecular manufacturing.
Just getting to a technological fabrication breakthrough is not an end in itself. Even when there is molecular precision. There is still getting more speed and control in the molecular fabrication processes and there is a great deal to be done with the design and system integration spaces.
Intel has stayed dominant by pushing as fast as possible through the innovation and improvement processes and constantly expanding the markets.
Intel has abandoned some areas that became commoditized (memory).
As Andy Grove, x-CEO of Intel, said “Only the paranoid survive”.
You have assume that their will be new players with nanofactories trying to emerge all the time and that some will be successful. Just trying to stop people from getting nanofactories is not a stable end-game. There will be a technological and capability race and those who feel that this can be avoided will get passed and left behind.
INTERESTING SOMEWHAT RELATED READING
I don’t want to get any messages saying we are “holding our position. “
We’re not “holding” anything. Let the Hun do that.
We’re advancing constantly. We’re not interested in holding on to anything. . .. . .except the enemy.
We’re going to hold on to him by the nose and kick him in the ass.
We’re going to kick the hell out of him all the time. . .
. . .and we’re going to go through him like crap through a goose!
This relates to setting up and “fortifying” a global government. The idea that trying to take over and holding onto territory and centrally controlling it will be better is not a good idea.
Also, historical statistics can be examined to see whether and when conquerers or merged nations were able to set up improved security or were able to reduce or control the bad behavior of some people in the junior territory.
Changes at the top rarely translate into superior situations at the bottom.
The modern large scale examples of central control are the English empire (Pax Brittania) and the USSR. More modern examples of increased central governance are the European Union, trade blocks (NAFTA), East Germany reunifying with west Germany, the US administration of Iraq etc… Also, the level of influence the United States has been able to exert as a superpower is also instructive.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.