With new gadgets being turned against pot smokers everyday, we might wonder, “Where is the nightmare of techno-tyranny taking us?”
Nanotechnology – the science of making machines atom-small – is the most powerful dawning technology known to human science. Although it is important to bear in mind that it may take anywhere from a decade to hundreds of years for nanotechnology to blossom to its fullest potential, it is a fascinating field that stimulates the mind to speculate on the ever-disintegrating boundaries between science fiction and science fact.

According to nanovisionary K Eric Drexler, nanotechnology offers a vast panacea to humankind: replaced limbs, infallible memories, perfect health, unguessable lifespans, built-in communications systems, unlimited products made right in our closet or even magically sprouting from our hands, and virtual realities accessible through ports built into the organic chemistry of our five senses. It is also more dangerous than every atomic bomb on the planet put together.

Drexler coined the term “nanotechnology” in the 80’s and received a Phd in molecular nanotechnology from MIT in the 90’s. Drexler’s thoughts, available in his awe-invoking book Engines of Creation, inspired a nanorevolution as all the finest minds set to work on achieving his dream. Drexler’s dream wasn’t all good, though; he had many warnings. One thing he missed in his warnings, however, was the negative side of having nanotechnology in our bodies to govern our health. For whose version of “health” should we subject ourselves to?

As Drexler cautioned: “The threat of advanced technology in the hands of governments makes one thing perfectly clear: we cannot afford to have an oppressive state take the lead in the coming breakthroughs.”

So who is funding nanotech research? According to a graduate report prepared by Richard H Smith II at Virginia Tech, the work of building super-small machines receives billions in funding from western governments around the world. In the US, dollars for nanos come from the US government’s National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Health (NIH).

The NIH’s anti-drug department is the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), which fudges studies advertising that THC damages and destroys brain cells, is like cocaine or heroin, can cause mental illness, and shouldn’t be considered a medicine unless pharmaceutically manufactured (NIDA Notes, Volume 11, Number 2, March/April1996, Facts About Marijuana and Marijuana Abuse, National Institute of Health; Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know, 1998).

With the NIH in charge of the official definition of health, will nanonarks in our brains one day be programmed to block the uptake of THC by manufacturing and administering a cannabis antagonist like that currently being developed by the Sanofi-Synthelabo corporation, based in Paris, France? Will they report us to the authorities at the first taste of smoke on our tongues, and then rewire our senses to experience a virtual-reality imprisonment while our bodies are used on assembly lines or as slaves for the rich and powerful?

Whether machines become more like mind and become increasingly uncontrollable, or mind becomes more like machine and becomes increasingly easily to restrain, we are evolving into a situation that could become unpleasant for life as we know it. Either machines will out-evolve us, or the dominator will be empowered to program itself into our very flesh and bones. It could bring a new meaning to the concept of “hegemony,” the process by which ideological oppression and information warfare already write themselves into our consciousnesses through dominator culture – the Hitler, the DEA agent within.

What value will life have with the human spirit imprisoned in a cage smaller than the molecules in the neurotransmitters firing in the synapses of our brains? It is my opinion that we must seize upon the technology and the laws we already enslave ourselves with and prove that we are worthy custodians of both before we leap ahead into madness.

Should we plunge ahead despite our degraded social state, humanity’s best hope may rest in the hackers who currently bedevil the internet and information security systems worldwide. Technologically savvy freedom activists might write viruses to reprogram nanobots with the imperative to serve the will of their hosts.

So we may either suffer the most severe imprisonment or experience the greatest freedom: we may recreate ourselves as zombies or gods. Paradoxically, whatever the evolutionary outcome, it will be fueled by the very human desires both to rule and rebel!