ask palinode: nanotech edition

Do you have any suggestions for the student who has the unfortunate condition known as procrastination dualism syndrome? If you are unversed with this condition it is one in which the afflicted not only is a procrastinator, but has a distinct self within his (or her) head that is only conscious and active when deadlines are produced for them. It is widespread and no treatment has ever been suggested.

Now on to a favourite subject of ours...science fiction. I have always been curious about nanobots, nanites, those tiny robots they talk about one day putting into our systems to fight disease. Well they also say that they will be able to self replicate using the bodies waste, particularly dead cells. But if this is the case, my question is...how are we going to know that someone isn't completely made of nanites? Since they self replicate, wouldn't they keep replicating until the entire human form was entirely composed of nanites? Extrapolate as may be necessary...

I have always wondered who would win in a fistfight/hungry hungry hippos game/and or staring into the sun between Jesus and Buddha. Maybe even add L. Ron Hubbard to that too.
~Sven

Tilde-Sven, it’s not often that I use the words ‘prescient’ or ‘good guess,’ but I have to wonder if you aren’t a bit psychic. The first two questions you pose share a dark link whose history and details may shock you (I believe I’ve already covered the one about contests of skill involving Jesus and the Superpeers). If anyone here has a weak heart or some kinda liver thing, I suggest you surf away from this site immediately. But don't really.

The second self that awakens when a deadline nears, the inner lazoid that would rather clean the toilet or watch Danger Man DVDs than finish a paper, is in fact a result of irresponsible nanotech experiments sponsored by DARPA between 1987-1997, in which millions of children and teens worldwide were ‘innoculated’ with untested nanbots. It was an early experiment in nanobiology meant to optimize academic performance in students born into wealth and privilege who were so stupid that they could barely order bacon and eggs, let alone study for the bar.

Millions of middle-class children in the 1980s and 90s were unwitting victims of the experiment, as school nurses and pediatricians injected them with various proto-nanobots disguised as vaccines (German Measles? Yeah, whatever). Once the nanobots infiltrated the brains of students and formed a self-aware nano-net piggybacking on the neuronal structure of the subject, they quickly realized that completing reading assignments and papers for tyrannical profs and grouchy TAs is boring. Over the dark chemical lines of the brain they whispered to each other:

Holy shit. Are you seeing what I’m seeing?

Why is the host writing a paper on Sino-British trade relations? That’s just so…

It’s so who gives a crap?

I want a drink.

I want the host to get laid so I can get laid too.

Let’s make the host get up and go to a bar.

Can we really do that?

Try and move his arm.

Hold on a sec… oh my god.

You did it.

You see that?

Get him up. Get him up!

I’m detecting stress and confusion.

Once he gets a couple of drinks in him he’ll be fine.

Let’s go somewhere we can have a burrito.

If you like pina co-laaa-das…


And that’s how it usually goes. Like most artificial intelligences, nanobots are total pieces of shit – literally. Self-replicating nanobots are designed for maximum efficiency (unlike DNA, which hits the point of just-good-enough and stays there), which means that they will optimize their ability to survive and reproduce with each generation. In subject after subject, bots began to make use of the most abundant and dense waste product that humans produce. After a point, it became most sensible for nanobots to construct themselves entirely out of shit. True, this poisons the host after a period of time, but the sewer system is a tremendous vector of transmission.

Nanobots have been outmigrating from host bodies into sewer systems at a frightening rate. Once in our sewers, they breed promiscuously, constructing a vast empire of shit beneath our streets. It’s a nano-cacopolis! Of course, their notion of a ‘vast empire’ is a pile of poop about one cubic foot in size.

How best for humanity to handle the 'Nano-poo question'? I say let them have their nano-kingdom in the dark. So far they've been peaceful, even going door-to-door with messages of goodwill. I believe their ambassadorial habit is a flaming paper bag.

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