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Integrity - use of values or principles to guide action in the situation at hand.

Below are links and discussion related to the values of freedom, hope, trust, privacy, responsibility, safety, and well-being, within business and government situations arising in the areas of security, privacy, technology, corporate governance, sustainability, and CSR.

Dangers of Molecular Nanotechnology (which is overall an exciting new industrial engineering process mechanism), 24.2.04


The potential benefits of molecular manufacturing are immense, but so are the dangers. In order to avert the dangers, we must thoroughly understand them, and then develop comprehensive plans to prevent them. As explained in our Timeline and Products pages, molecular nanotechnology (MNT) will allow the rapid prototyping and inexpensive manufacture of a wide variety of powerful products. This capability will arrive rather suddenly, since the final steps of developing the technology are likely to be much easier than the initial steps, and many of them can be pre-planned. The sudden arrival of molecular manufacturing may not allow time to adjust to its implications. Adequate preparation is essential.

CRN has identified several separate and severe risks.

The first step in understanding the dangers is to identify them. CRN has begun that process here, listing and describing several separate and severe risks. Although probably incomplete, the list is already worrisome:

  • Economic disruption from an abundance of cheap products
  • Economic oppression from artificially inflated prices
  • Personal risk from criminal or terrorist use
  • Personal or social risk from abusive restrictions
  • Social disruption from new products/lifestyles
  • Unstable arms race
  • Collective environmental damage from unregulated products
  • Free-range self-replicators (gray goo)
  • Black market in nanotech (increases other risks)
  • Competing nanotech programs (increases other risks)
  • Attempted relinquishment (increases other risks)

    Some of the dangers described here are existential risks, that is, they may threaten the continued existence of humankind. Others could produce significant disruption but not cause our extinction. A combination of several risks could exacerbate the seriousness of each; any solution must take into account its effect on other risks.

    Some of these risks arise from too little regulation, and others from too much regulation. Several different kinds of regulation will be necessary in several different fields. An extreme or knee-jerk response to any of these risks will create fertile ground for other risks. The temptation to impose apparently obvious and simple solutions to problems in isolation must be avoided. Other pages address the possibilities for regulation; this one is concerned with discussing and analyzing the dangers.

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    "We shall need compromises in the days ahead, to be sure. But these will be, or should be, compromises of issues, not principles. We can compromise our political positions, but not ourselves. We can resolve the clash of interests without conceding our ideals. And even the necessity for the right kind of compromise does not eliminate the need for those idealists and reformers who keep our compromises moving ahead, who prevent all political situations from meeting the description supplied by Shaw: "smirched with compromise, rotted with opportunism, mildewed by expedience, stretched out of shape with wirepulling and putrefied with permeation.
    Compromise need not mean cowardice. .."

    John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Profiles in Courage"


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