*Obama’s NBIC (nano-bio-info-cogno convergence) Agenda.

Posted: November 11, 2008 in 2008, Exclusives
Tags: , , , , , ,


“America risks being left behind in the global economy: Revolutionary advances in information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology and other fields are reshaping the global economy. Without renewed efforts, the United States risks losing leadership in science, technology and innovation. ” LINK MIRROR

With all of his talk about “change”, is it only me who senses the irony here? The “Revolutionary” advances he’s talking about are Artificial General Intelligence (“information technology”), genetic engineering / synthetic biology & designer babies (“biotechnology”), and too much in terms of nanotechnology to sound-byte like the others. The “other fields” he mentioned is almost certainly the other field he didn’t mention, cognitive sciences.

What he’s likely referring to is “convergence”, and unlike Bush (who once made a similar statement) I get the feeling he understands these things with a far greater degree of clarity. This ‘convergence’ is the unifying merger of these sciences into a vast paradigm shifting new form of science / technology. It’s the fusion of these sciences into one. It’s really hard to even describe. It’s hard enough trying to describe the key component nanotechnology. I think its impossible to even conceptualize the world of nano without watching the following short video presentation:

A 482 page document, titled Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance, which is the outcome of a 2001 workshop by the National Science Foundation & Dept. of Commerce explains convergence this way:

The integration and synergy of the four technologies (nano-bio-info-cogno) originate from the nanoscale, where the building blocks of matter are established. This picture symbolizes the confluence of technologies that now offers the promise of improving human lives in many ways, and the realignment of traditional disciplinary boundaries that will be needed to realize this potential. New and more direct pathways towards human goals are envisioned in working habits, in economic activity, and in the humanities.

In the early decades of the twenty-first century, concentrated efforts can unify science based on unity in nature, thereby advancing the combination of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and new humane technologies based in cognitive science. With proper attention to ethical issues and societal needs, converging technologies could determine a tremendous improvement in human abilities, societal outcomes, the nations productivity, and the quality of life. This is a broad, cross-cutting, emerging and timely opportunity of interest to individuals, society and humanity in the long term.

The phrase convergent technologies refers to the synergistic combination of four major NBIC (Nano-Bio-Info-Cogno) provinces of science and technology, each of which is currently progressing at a rapid rate: (a) nanoscience and nanotechnology; (b) biotechnology and biomedicine, including genetic engineering; (c) information technology, including advanced computing and communications; (d) cognitive science, including cognitive neuroscience.

In short, the idea is to create an entire new realm of science, and therefore ‘life’, by unifying these key technology paradigms into one new format. It’s not merely to propose creating new lifeforms via genetic engineering, but rather create cyborgs at the cellular scale. Meaning each cell is in itself a biological nanobot cyborg that is alone artificially intelligent, yet are also meant to function collectively in many cases. Then these are to serve a wide array of uses from neural brain implants to ubiquitous intelligent panels and components on NASA spaceships.

The document mentioned is in effect perhaps the ultimate Transhumanism manifesto in existence, and the list of federal agencies and their collaborators in just that 2002 NBIC document is exhaustive:

White House, National Science Foundation, Department of Commerce, Newt Gingrich, NASA, National Institutes of Health, Hewlet Packard, Institute for Global Futures, National Science and Technology Councils Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science Engineering and Technology (NSET), IBM, Raytheon, Lucent, University of California, Stanford University, Sandia National Labs, Brandeis University, MIT, University of Washington, University of Strathclyde, Tissue Informatics, University of Pennsylvania, University of Louisville, NYU Medical School, University of Calgary, Duke University, University of Texas, UCSB, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Carnegie Melon University, Department of Defense, DARPA, Naval Research Laboratory, Defense For Research, New England Complex Systems Institute, University of Virginia, University of Maryland, Institute of Nanotechnology, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Commision on the Future of Aerospace, US Nuclear Regulatory Commision, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, The EPA, Department of Chemistry, Princeton Materials Institute …

One notable name from that list is Newt Gingrich. Newt did a key keynote presentation, and in it he refers to our current era in time as the “Age of Transitions”:

Figure A.2. The Age of Transitions.

We are starting to live through two patterns of change. The first is the enormous computer and communications revolution described above. The second, only now beginning to rise, is the combination of the nanotechnology-biology-information revolution. These two S curves will overlap. It is the overlapping period that we are just beginning to enter, and it is that period that I believe will be an Age of Transitions.

Focusing on computers and communications is only the first step toward understanding the Age of Transitions. While we are still in the early stages of the computer-communications pattern of change, we are already beginning to see a new, even more powerful pattern of change that will be built on a synergistic interaction between three different areas: the nano world, biology, and information.

The sciences have reached a watershed at which they must combine in order to advance most rapidly. The new renaissance must be based on a holistic view of science and technology that envisions new technical possibilities and focuses on people. The unification of science and technology can yield results over the next two decades on the basis of four key principles: material unity at the nanoscale, NBIC transforming tools, hierarchical systems, and improvement of human performance.

If anyone out there underestimates Newt Gingrich I highly recommend you read his lengthy contribution to that document. He goes on:

We are living through two tremendous patterns of scientific-technological change: an overlapping of a computer-communications revolution and a nanotechnology-biology-information revolution. Each alone would be powerful; combined, the two patterns guarantee that we will be in constant transition as one breakthrough or innovation follows another.

One last Newt quote:

Computing is a key element in this revolution.

And that brings us back to Obama, and his new friends at Google. Recent news has Obama popping up in my Google News Gadgets I normally use to monitor whenever Google or DARPA pop up in news articles with the term “artificial intelligence”. In particular interest is Obama’s alliance with Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google. It turns out that Eric not only endorsed Obama before his presidential victory, but he even went as far as to hit the campaign trail with him during the last month. See video here of Eric discussing his endorsement, and here where he was featured in Obama’s 30 minute infomercial. In the time since the election ended, he’s now one of Obama’s special economic advisers. Another Google name, in Obama’s transition team is Sonal Shah.

This is the trailer for my upcoming film, “an unholy alliance”, which chronicles the Google-NASA-DARPA alliance.

The Google-Obama alliance brings context to my assertions of Obama’s initial ‘revolutionary’ technologies statement when you consider the NASA-Google alliance which Google & NASA press releases described the partnership as being focused on “massively distributed computing” and “bio-info-nano convergence“.

Al Gore also comes to mind here considering he’s been on Google’s board of senior advisers since shortly after he “lost” the 2000 election when he also began his “Global Warming” ‘crusade’. Considering the above reasons alone I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if we soon hear of Gore becoming Obama’s new “Chief Technology Officer”.

While Obama has been somewhat sketchy about how he intends to deal with NASA funding matters, I think with my above elaborations his following quote on the subject gains new light:

“What direction do we take the space program in? Once we have a sense of what’s going to be most valuable for us in terms of gaining knowledge, then I think we’ll able to adjust the budget so that we’re going all out on what it is that we’ve decided to do.”

Back to Google, and that Converging Technologies doocument, I’d like to point out one more thing. In the same sense that Google’s cofounders want everybody to have Google enabled neural implants, the drafters of the NBIC document also envision what they call the “collective social system“.

  1. dad2059 says:

    In some of Greg Bear’s works like ‘Queen of Angels’ and ‘Slant’, he foretells a future society where nanotech is as common as plastic surgery and make-up.

    One can interface with the Web at will anytime using nano-grown links directly into the brain and entertainment piped right in.

    This is something like what you told me yesterday what these guys might be shooting for.

    Oh yeah, paradigm change a-comin’!

  2. Benjamin says:

    Do you know anything about hacking? Hackers will be the new freedom-fighters. I want to learn to fight the nanobots when they arrive.

  3. Rick says:

    And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:

    This is NANO TECHNOLOGY…people are already getting chipped.

  4. revmanny says:

    to benjamin’s point… the network security world is a strange new existence…

    and rick, if you’re gonna quote the bible, can I also quote how eating shrimp is evil, or if my brother’s wife dies how I should marry her? Or can I quote jesus’ famous “render unto god what is god’s and render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s?”

    Quoting the bible in a debate founded on reason is like using a whiffle bat to try and play football. Religion and logic, I’m glad to say, have little to nothing to do with each other.

    One Love,
    –Reverend Manny and the Twilight Empire

  5. Robert says:

    A few years ago, I noticed that my computer was being used during my human down-time without my consent as a cog in some massive network of unknown origin and purpose. This continued for a few months – some kind of beta test. I get the feeling that’s how they invision using our brains – as a cog in their neural network, and we as individuals (if there are any left) won’t have much say in the matter. “The beast” indeed. I guess this may have happened many times before in human history (the real hidden history that goes back millions, possibly billions of years) so they know how this will pan out (predictive programming in the bible). The “human factor” seems to have been entirely lost on these techies.

  6. ignoranceisntbliss says:

    If it says “CPU Idle” or something like that its not necessarily not being used by external forces. But you could have been infected by a “Botnet” virus.

    This could be rogue hackers trying to cause trouble or steal money, or rogue military hackers doing who knows what:

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