Saturday, December 13, 2008

Double Feature: Nanothrillers

Try this double feature, science plus fiction: First, read artificial intelligence guru Ray Kurzweil's non-fiction epic of futurist predictions, The Singularity is Near (2005). Get excited about the possibility of living forever and looking good via advancements in nanotechnology. Then, as an antidote to the 80s ballad, Forever Young, now gunked up in your brain, start Jeff Carlson's Plague Year (2007). Get a glimpse at what could happen if the gray goo runs amok. In this cannibalistic-apocalypse, either the nanobots will devour us from the inside, or we'll end up eating each other at high altitudes. Take your pick. In a recent issue of Kurzweil's newsletter, he points out that a surge of interest in nanotech (and use in skin care products) is creating nanophobia, which could lead to more regulation in the field. Still, Kurzweil doesn't deny the plausibility of out of control nano scenarios like Carlson's, just says we should take precautions. Bring on the "blue goo," the nano police. Meanwhile, Carlson released the follow up Plague War (2008) heading for a nano disaster trilogy. So, where do you fall? Nanofervor or nanofear? Speculation makes for nanofun.

1 comment:

Shel Graves said...

And this just in a nanotech culture war is possible?! From the journal Nature Nanotechnology, "Rather than infer that nanotechnology is safe, members of the public who learn about this novel science tend to become sharply polarized along cultural lines, according to a study conducted by the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School in collaboration with the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies."