X-Message-Number: 3470
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 1994 13:41:40 +6000
From: Trygve Bauge <>
Subject: CRYONICS: MILITARY: Nanotechnology connections (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 12 Dec 94 00:43:11 EST
From: Gregory Sullivan <>
> Subject: MILITARY: Nanotechnology connections

         Military and Nanotechnology References (Part 1)

What kind of information and misinformation is the military being given
about the potential of nanotechnology?  More generally, what is the
relationship between the current military-political establishment and
nanotechnology?  I do not claim privileged status to answer these questions
but I have gathered some references I consider relevant and I would
appreciate any further information from list members.

No doubt it takes time to effect big bureaucratic organizations and such
organizations often do not react in a unified manner since they are composed
of individuals with divergent agendas.  Also, the timeframe for
nanotechnology is unclear - although Drexler and Merkle suggest a rapid
development timeline with arrival possible between 2010 and 2020.  What
follows are some observations and references which present fragmentary
traces of the penetration of the nanotechnology meme into the
military-political establishment of the US. 

The final paragraphs of the San Francisco Examiner article below indicate
that Drexler is actively trying to directly interest the military in
nanotechnology.  The article suggests he is trying to convince military
personnel of the dangers of an arms race in nanotechnology.

The San Francisco Examiner October 16, 1994, Sunday; Fifth Edition

California, the formidable future of tiny technology is taking shape

   Imagine a technology that allows you to manipulate a single atom and
place it precisely in a specific position. Imagine that, and you can imagine
a computer no bigger than a sugar cube that would have more power and more
memory than all the computers that have ever been produced combined.

    In a darker vein, the same technology could produce incredible new weapons
systems: Virtually indestructible tanks as light as a car; bullets that can
penetrate almost any material; microscopic agents that could kill humans while
discriminating between friendly and hostile forces.

    Currently, nanotechnology research is being carried out by small groups
of scientists around the world, with the largest concentration in the United
States found in Northern California's top universities and high-tech
research centers.  Japan recently began a 10-year, $ 200 million research
program, but so far, there is no large-scale organized effort despite the
technology's incredible promises.

    How far away are the promises of nanotechnology? Drexler believes it may be
closer than we think. "It may be 15 to 20 years away."

    "I don't know when we will have these capabilities," says Merkle.  "But
if you take a look at how quickly chip manufacturers are shrinking their chip
designs, and you look at the rate that manufacturing technologies are
improving their resolution, and you consider the rate at which power
consumption of individual transistors is declining; if you chart these rates
as straight lines, they all converge in the 2010 to 2020 time frame."

    According to Drexler, the military if (sic) the only organization taking
a long-term view on nanotechnology right (sic). While this fact may concern
some, Drexler points out that there is no historical precedent for the
development of a major technology that did not involve the military.

    "For the military not to be involved would be irresponsible, since they
have to make sure no new technologies can threaten them. The military also
has money, it has a long-term view, and it has the capabilities to research
and develop technologies and products relatively cheaply," Drexler says.

    Drexler has spoken to various branches of the U.S. military and his
message has been that open, global cooperation is essential. "I've pointed
out that an arms race in nanotechnology would not result in clear winners.
They seem to agree with that."

End article

The quoted reference below gives an example of Drexler presenting
nanotechnology to a military research audience. Here I am assuming `NATO'
refers the military alliance acronym.


   Drs. Drexler and Merkle are both departing for the NATO Advanced
   Research Workshop on "Ultimate Limits of Fabrication and Measurement"
   being held April 5-8 in Cambridge, England. Dr. Drexler is scheduled
   to open the meeting with a talk on molecular manufacturing, and to
   serve on the closing panel. Dr. Merkle's talk is on "Self Replicating
   Systems and Low Cost Manufacturing." Other speakers include Prof. M.
   Aono of the Aono Atomcraft Project, Dr. Don Eigler of IBM (who spelled
   the word IBM using individual atoms with an STM), Nobel winner Dr.
   Heinrich Rohrer also of IBM (coinventor of the STM), and Dr. Clayton
   Teague, editor of the journal Nanotechnology. The proceedings will be
   published as part of a special issue of the Proceedings of the Royal
   Society and will also appear in the NATO ASI Series by Kluwer Academic

End quote

Below is an excerpt of the testimony given by John L. Petersen to Congress
during the bottom-up military review which describes the military potential
of nanotechnology.  Petersen is a member of the Global Business Network
which I will discuss in the next message.  His full testimony makes it clear
that he has been deeply influenced by the ideas of Alvin and Heidi Toffler
who I will also discuss in the next message.  Petersen's recent book `The
Road to 2015' contains the following description of Petersen: `a futurist who
specializes in long-range thinking about national security.'

                             March 1, 1994, Tuesday


    Statement of John L. Petersen President, The Arlington Institute before
    the Military Forces and Personnel Subcommittee House Armed Services
    Committee in connection with the Bottom-Up Review

    To evaluate the efficacy of the bottom-up review and the force structure
recommendations that flow from it, it seems to me that we must first understand
what is happening and likely to happen in the context in which these forces may
be used.  If the world in ton or twenty years is a far different place than it
is now, and we are making most of our decisions based on a views that are only
variations of the present world, we are making a serious mistake.  I believe
that is the case, and I'd like to give you a brief perspective of what I see
happening during the next two decades and what the implications are to our
defense and security.

    This explosion in basic computing capability has spawned a number of
technologies that will also have profound implications.  Molecular
nanotechnology is one of the most Intriguing.  From the beginning of time, we
have always manufactured things from the top down.  We started with something
larger, like a tree, and shaped that raw material into the products we use.
Nanotech will, sometime soon after the turn of the century, begin to produce
usable products that are the result of "bottom-up" manufacturing that uses
molecular-sized machines that move Individual atoms Into predetermined
configurations that have been programmed by computer programs.  This process
will produce no waste and therefore no negative by-products.  Raw feed stock,
like crude oil, could be converted directly into very complex devices made
out of diamond -- for diamond is nothing more than the carbon atoms of crude
oil configured In another way.

    That means that things like aircraft engines could, within a couple of
decades be manufactured by pumping a slurry of raw materials -- like crude
oil -- into a tank and throwing a switch that activates an invisible little
machine at the bottom.  The nanomachine would, at the rate of billions per
minute, replicate itself and, when there were enough of them, they would
switch over to building, atom-by-atom the jet engine.  In about 20 minutes
the whole thing would be complete -- and perfect.  There would be no flaws
In the crystalline structure.  The cost of manufacturing would be about the
cost of the feed stock -- in this case maybe 10 barrels of oil or, at
today's prices, $150.

    Almost all of the cost of manufacturing would shift over to the
intellectual side and reside in the design of the software that drove the
system.  There would be no need for manufacturing plants and machine tools
as we know them.

    If this happens as anticipated, the effect on the military will be
extraordinary.  To build you one image of what this might mean, consider that
one or two computer scientists -- perhaps in some small Asian country --
could, without any significant industrial infrastructure, design and
manufacture billions of invisible, molecular-sized machines that have
sophisticated sensor suites and destruction capabilities.  They could then
be dumped out of a aircraft at very high altitudes and within a couple of
days be spread eye throughout the world by the upper air currents.  Every
human body would have breathed them, every gasoline engine would have them
inside of them, they would be everywhere.  By simply checking the right
string of DNA they could be programmed to respond to people of certain races
-- or perhaps, short guys, with bald heads and mustaches.  A radio signal
might be all that was needed to activate them to do their deeds, whatever
they were.

    Although it sounds like science fiction, it Isn't.  Countries like Japan
are Investing hundreds of millions of dollars into the development of
nanotech right now.  If it evolves the way it appears it will, this
technology will make obsolete every known human manufacturing process in
about ten years.

End quote

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