October 15 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Technology Year: Beyond Rating: 5 Hot
Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that a successful nanobot design goes into production. These little guys can build just about anything you want, including more of themselves. But, barring an end-of-the-world scenario where the world gets covered with self-replicating nanobots (Grey Goo), what can we expect in the world around us?
The one thing that popped into my head last night was the idea that if nanobots could remove elements from their surroundings to build themselves, than means they could potentially mine areas for precious metals too tiny for us to mine ourselves. Nanobots could scour the dust, deserts, forests and hills for single-atom particles, a million of them being able to amass enough for a fifty-pound ball of plutonium.
So what about other precious metals?
The worlds oceans contain an estimated 20 million tons of gold. Washed down from land over billions of years and sitting in a suspended solution (salt water), it could be ripe for the taking. In fact, if people were able to mine all the gold out of the Oceans and it were equally dispersed to the global population, we’d all be stinking rich. “If all the gold suspended in the world’s seawater were mined, each person on Earth could have about 9 pounds of gold.” It would change the face of the world.
There are a few different things that could happen from this. Firstly, the worlds banks could finally base all of their currency on a gold standard. The US Dollar, for instance, only has value because we believe it to have value. Gold backing is an incredibly small part of America’s economy. Would this mean an economic boom? Pumping nine pounds of gold per person into an economy would be very good.
But it could take another turn.
Gold has increased in value over the last ten years at an incredible rate. But as everyone knows, if you flood the market with something in excess the price will go down. Gold could drop so low in value that it would be about as expensive as Steel.
So if you’re imagining a world where nanobots take care of everything in the world, just stop and think what kind of a world would be created if we all got our wish.