13 January 2008

Come with me if you want to live!

Before 9-11, China was expected to be more of a front burner issue with the Bush Administration than it turned out. But one might get a glimpse of what some of the more extreme voices might be saying if they weren’t so busy flogging threats like so-called “islamofascism” by checking out Lev Navrozov, regular columnist at NewsMax. Is the China Threat an expanded navy? Economic blackmail? Armies of hackers? No, no, it’s grey goo:

As I have written repeatedly before, the dictators of China face a dilemma. Either lose their slave-state power (which can yield its owners more than any wealth can), as they nearly lost it to the Tiananmen peaceful uprising and as the Soviet dictatorship did lose its power in 1991, or establish world domination via post-nuclear (such as nano) super weapons.

Few Westerners know that today, about 100,000 Tiananmens of all forms and sizes occur annually in China. The Chinese people are not dainty figurines as one might find on old Chinese vases, and to keep them enslaved is not as easy as it may seem to the Western owners of such vases.

Wow, this is going to be entertaining:

The dictatorship of China has unlimited possibilities for channeling all their resources into the development of post-nuclear super weapons, which do not entail Mutual Assured Destruction, as did nuclear weapons developed in the United States, Stalin’s Russia, Mao’s China, and some other countries…

Here is an example from my personal observations. When in 1986 Eric Drexler published his book about nanotechnology, I was fascinated by its Chapter 11 about molecular nano weapons. Let me explain why. “Atomic bombs” required over four years of development — and were developed ahead of Nazi Germany partly because European scientists, including Einstein, fled from Europe into the United States to escape anti-Semitism. Now the U.S. was saved — not by those European scientists, but by Drexler!

Drexler’s weapons (never developed in the United States, but still existing only on paper) are based on molecules. A molecule can be converted into a tiny computer (“nano” means one-billionth of a meter), an artificial virus, etc.

Imagine billions of such molecules flying as a vast and growing cloud (since molecules multiply) capable of, for example, finding atomic weapons and destroying them.

And what does Navrozov say must be done to combat this threat?

How to enlighten the majority of the Western electorate?

I believe there is only one way. We, who are aware of the geopolitical situation in the world today, must create a film, based on documentary evidence, but showing the annihilation of the West by post-nuclear super weapons, now developed by the dictatorship of China…

I am enlisting volunteers. As for myself, I am recalling that reviewers of my book “The Education of Lev Navrozov” (Harper & Row) compared me to Orwell and Dostoyevsky, that I am an Einstein Prize laureate as well as the winner of the Andrew Jackson “Champion of Liberty” award. I hope to contribute to the script of the film in order to save the Western civilization and its liberty.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is your chance to break into Hollywood. Who the hell is Navrozov, though, and why would anyone take this man seriously? Well, it seems that few people do, but the few that do aren’t exactly living in cabins in Montana writing long diatribes about how things that start with the suffix “uni-“ are bad. Lev is one of many people on the board of the Lifeboat Foundation, dedicated to “encouraging scientific advancements while helping humanity survive existential risks and possible misuse of increasingly powerful technologies, including genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and robotics/AI, as we move towards a technological singularity.”

His bio there explains a bit about him: a Russian translator of literature, he pulled a Solzhenitsyn in 1972 and “told The New York Times and a CIA senior analyst (who came with his two assistants to speak with Lev) that the dictatorship of Russia had been developing post-nuclear superweapons, to be able to destroy the Western means of retaliation in case of a Soviet nuclear attack and thus to circumvent Mutual Assured Destruction on which the defense of the West had been based. Neither The New York Times, nor the CIA, believed him, but Ronald Reagan did, met him, and publicly announced the tragic news, which the CIA declared to be “evil empiricism”, that is, his mania.”

“Evil Empiricism”?

The Lifeboat Foundation sports a few interesting members, such as Ray Kurzweil, he of the Singularity, Pam “Atlas” Oshry of the blog Atlas Shrugged, Wole Soyinka and the newly appointed Huckabee campaign consultant Jim Pinkerton. Sadly No! points out Lev was an inspirational figure for the infamous Team B, the neocon hawks of the seventies who gave a second opinion on CIA figures for Russian economic and military strength as a rationalization for a military build-up - thinking that came up again with the Cox report on China in the nineties, and again seems eerily familiar in the build-up to the war on Iraq.

Lev takes sides in the debate between the coiner of the terms “nanotechnology” and “grey goo”, K. Eric Drexler, and the late Richard Smalley, Novel Laureate for the discovery of Buckminsterfullerene, stating that if one discounts the possibility of Chinese supernanoweapons, “What would be the danger? That the West, including Dr. Smalley and his carbon nanotubes, would be reduced to dust or would surrender unconditionally to become a vast Hong Kong.” Indeed.

The Drexler-Smalley debate basically involved redefining the term “nanotechnology”. While Drexler had talked about self-replicating nanomachines in his book Engines of Creation, leading to the threat vast clouds of tiny robots gone AWOL devouring the Earth for raw materials to reproduce themselves (see the Michael Crichton book Prey for the movie version), Smalley was a chemist and he defined “nanotechnology” as really any work being done at a nanoscale - like the nanotubes he discovered. He argued in his 2001 Scientific American article “Of Chemistry, Love and Nanobots” (PDF) that “there isn’t that much room” for a molecular assembler to work, essentially trashing Drexler’s idea.

Drexler eventually lost that battle and the accepted version of “nanotechnology” became the more mundane one. Drexler also stated that fears of “grey goo” were overblown, though the Lifeboat Foundation considers it one of their key worries. Most predictions about future nanotech have to do with drug delivery, smart materials and sensors, not swarms of killer nanobots. Most Chinese press, despite some of Navrozov’s claims, is mostly full of references to nanoweeds, nanomaps and the dangers of using ultrafine particles (technically a nanotech product in the Smalley sense) in textile manufacturing. Of course there are military applications to nanotechnology. Field responsive particles for increased material strength, quantum dot sensors, energy absorbing nanomaterials, and the like are being researched by DARPA and similar agencies. With the exception of molecular motors, all the projects are material and chemistry science projects. Nothing about tiny bots. Its worth noting these are American nanodefense projects, so Lev’s claims that the U.S. is doing nothing is hysterical and false. Also, none of these are remotely close yet to any sort of “superweapons”.

But Lev Navrozov knows. He predicts Chinese super nano weapons, and he can back it up:

…some of my readers ask me in their e-mails — respectfully and good-naturedly — whether I can adduce the proofs of that apocalypse of the West I envisage.

I have been told by a Chinese that the Chinese “Manhattan Projects,” developing post-nuclear super weapons, are located deep in the rocky mountains so that nobody could drill a hole in the walls, in the floor and/or the ceiling to get a glimpse into what is being done within.

So a special mobile drill should be constructed for me (at the cost of $100 billion?) to move into those rocky mountains, drill a hole in them, sufficient to get out a half-ready nano super weapon and bring it before Western TV cameras as proof of development of nano super weapons in China.

Buy that man a drill!



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