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Future fears

In 1986, Eric Drexler wrote a book called Engines of Creation, which painted a vision of the future of nanotechnology, but also warned of the dangers. He described tiny self-replicating nanobots which could escape and gobble up the whole biosphere, leaving only 'gray goo'.

Science-fiction writers have used similar ideas to create both attractive and blood-curdling scenarios. Think of Michael Crichton's science thriller Prey, the Borg invasion in Star Trek, or The Matrix. So should we be worried that 'grey goo' could actually happen?

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K. Eric Drexler, author of Engines of Creation.
K. Eric Drexler, author of Engines of Creation.
Image: Foresight Institute

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