(ORDO NEWS) — Military developers are approaching the creation of fundamentally new types of weapons. For example, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is seriously considering plans to create combat cyber insects that can change the course of future battles. DARPA recently announced the creation of ultra-light autonomous drones without external control and GPS navigation. Using only their sensors, they flew through the mazes at a speed of 20 m / s.
In the 1950s, the famous Polish writer, sociologist and futurist Stanislaw Lem created his novel Invincible. It was a rather unusual work, imbued with the idea of ”neuroevolution” of microscopic cyber-organisms that lost their alien hosts for some unknown reason. Something similar was described in his story “The Master of the Bay” and the famous Soviet science fiction writer Sever Gansovsky. He is talking about microscopic marine life that can be combined into a single organism.
Today this topic has received a very dangerous continuation.
Not so long ago, the vast “apocalyptic” literature was replenished with the book of Luis Monte “Nanoweapons: a growing threat to humanity.” In it, a well-known physicist and cyberneticist, who has long been engaged in the development of microelectronic technologies and problems of artificial intelligence, examines the danger of creating combat nanorobots. The author predicts that already in the first quarter of this century, their role in military conflicts will increase manifold. Almost invisible drones can also become a weapon of large-scale biological warfare. In addition, terrorist organizations are already showing interest in military nanotechnology, whose plans include the use of this type of weapon to infect entire regions, water supply to megacities and other biological attacks.
Many military laboratories are intensively working on miniaturizing aerial drones and have already achieved some success. Military experts in the field of robotics believe that in just 20 years, robotic “hives” with sets of mechanical insects will enter the arms market. Moreover, each of the inhabitants of such a “military base of fighting insects” will be able to fight both alone and as part of formations.
This, of course, is still far from a nanoweapon, but the trends are already obvious, which by the end of our century may well lead to breakthrough military technologies and the creation of the so-called smart dust.
At a conference of the US Department of Defense, dedicated to promising types of weapons, a number of experts expressed concerns that nanotechnology could lead to the creation of an army of nanobots that look like “smart dust”.
It is assumed that it will be based on motes (from the English mote – “speck of dust”). At the same time, each motorcycle will be equipped with a “microbrain” – sensitive sensors, power supplies and communication units. “A cloud of mots” will be a super-universal transformer, able to group in a variety of ways, turning into flying, now floating, or even underwater vehicles.
The concept of smart dust first appeared in science fiction literature of the early 60s of the last century. Then, at the beginning of this century, scientific and popular reviews appeared, in which various methods of creating millimeter cyber grains and micrometer cyber dusts, possessing intelligence – and suitable for solving specific problems, were considered.
One of the most dangerous uses of smart microparticles is in biological weapons. Microdrones disguised as ordinary insects, with a tailwind, will be able to deliver biological weapons hundreds of kilometers into the deep rear of the enemy. In some cases, they themselves will act as a weapon, stinging with toxic substances. An attack by conventional drones is also possible, firing tens of microdrones over the enemy with thousands, millions of nanobots. This robotic “dust” will fall into soldiers’ lungs, guaranteed to incapacitate them.
Luis Monte writes in his book that nanoweapons can transport various types of nanoparticles that are capable of provoking a heart attack, cerebrovascular accident, respiratory failure, insanity, AIDS and other diseases.
It is known that the Pentagon is spending billions of dollars on the development of various types of nanoweapons. At the same time, the field of application covers the spectrum from sabotage inside missile silos to climate control systems. This may mean that a new arms race is starting to unfold in the world, which promises to be no less dangerous than a nuclear confrontation.
Replicators and Replicants
At the end of his book, Dr. Monte makes a series of daunting predictions, one of which concerns the uncontrolled growth of autonomous nanobots capable of replicating themselves many times over. If you start the process of assembling replicators of their copies, then managing tens of millions of microscopic automata can turn into a huge problem. In addition, the process of mass reproduction of nanobots involves the timely debugging of programs, and if an unexpected failure occurs in the software, this can lead to unpredictable consequences. For example, a swarm of military microscopic cybers can attack civilians or start destroying civilian targets.
Even more dangerous are the “nano-nuclear” technologies for assembling small atomic bombs by a swarm of nanobots. Such miniature charges can be used by extremists for a variety of terrorist acts, preparation for which will be very difficult to track.
Where to get resources for endless copying of nanobots? Here it is worth recalling the half-forgotten theory of “gray goo”, which at one time caused heated debates among cyberneticists and futurologists.
The Godfather of Nanotechnology Eric Drexler is best known for his book Machines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology (1986). In it, he expressed the idea of creating a nano assembler that could build exact copies of not only arbitrary objects, but also itself. He also proposed an original way to revive deeply frozen cryocenter patients using nanobots.
Against the backdrop of optimistic forecasts, Drexler also coined the term “gray goo” for the first time. So another doomsday scenario was born. It shows what could happen if molecular reproduction gets out of hand. According to Drexler, this will instantly transform “self-replicating nanomachines of creation” into “machines of death and destruction” that will non-stop recycling earth’s resources and consume a monstrous amount of energy to copy their own kind. It will take some time, and the lifeless Earth will be covered only with the “gray slime” of nanorobots …
Drexler’s ideas were further developed, and today “gray slime” is divided into “gray plankton” from floating nanobots, “gray dust”, extracting everything it needs from the air, and “gray lichen”, destroying all life in search of biomass.
Several years ago, at a conference in the Skolkovo Technopark near Moscow, Novosibirsk scientists presented a report on the risks of further development of military nanotechnology. The report provides stunning assessments that make us think deeply about the future of humanity. Russian experts have calculated that by the end of this century, microscopic cyber technology with a probability of 5% can destroy our civilization. More optimistic estimates suggest that a billion people will die with a 10 percent probability and at least a million will die with a 25 percent probability.
At the same time, the estimates of the probabilities of the disappearance of civilization in the course of a nuclear conflict, pandemic or asteroid fall do not exceed 2-3%.
New life around the corner?
Military nanotechnology has gained new momentum following recent advances in molecular engineering. Scientists Savage, Stoddart and Feringa won the Nobel Prize for the creation of “molecular machines with subminiature molecular engines.” This not only opens up brilliant prospects for nanocybers, but can also change the entire way of human life, as it happened after the advent of industrial electric motors and generators.
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