from February 15, 2004
Never let it be said that MJTT is unaware of what is transpiring in the far-flung fields of science and technology. Some of our best thinkers are currently working on the relatively new field of nanotechnology (known to its detractors as nonotechnology).
For those readers who spend more time on the sports sections of newspapers than on the heavy stuff, let me explain, in brief, the nature of what the Washington Post calls “the hot young science of making invisibly tiny machines and materials.” Scientists are now able to manufacture things slighter of composition than one-thousandth the width of a human hair. This ability enables the medical crowd to create nanobots, tiny devices designed to float through human blood vessels in quest of diseases otherwise undetectable by a doctor during the annual three-minute medical exam.
A curious device, the nanobot. What it plans to do upon discovering a medical problem is an issue for another column. To the casual observer, the options appear to be (1) send in a more specialized nanobot to clean up the mess, (2) alert the attending physician to the problem, or (3) put in a call to the mortuary or furnace of the patient’s choice.
Yet there is a dispute brewing between the cautious and the bold. The nonotechnologists wish to think through the implications of this rapidly-developing field. Their concern is that nanotechnology is a potential if not actual Frankenstein, that the little machines can, perhaps even do, poison the environment and accumulate in the organs of our animal friends. Some studies indeed seem to have proved this fear legitimate.
The bold, however, proceed with their experiments unabated, with faith in their axiom that smaller is better and that nanotechnology aggressively and intelligently practiced will solve the environmental problems with which we are obviously faced.
We at MJTT propose that this dispute can be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.
Let us begin by stipulating that our environmental problems are caused in major part by the world’s overpopulation.
Given this fact, simple logic dictates that following the instincts of the bold has a distinct advantage, as can be seen in the following brief argument.
If unfettered nanotechnology solves our environmental problems, it solves our environmental problems, and the case is closed.
If, however, nonotechnology turns out to be correct—if, that is, nanotechnology is indeed a Frankenstein left to its own devices, it will be harmful to homo sapiens, i.e., it will reduce the population. Put simply, it will kill people. Put even more simply, if nanotechnology is a Trojan horse, if it fails, it will reduce the world’s overpopulation, thus solving our environmental problems, and the case is closed.
Thus MJTT concludes that nanotechnology, given free rein, is a win-win proposition. QED.
Let the nano revolution continue!