Andorra of the Future: No No to Nano!

January 20, 2016

One of the cities of The Ecotopia 2121 Project is Andorra la Vella, the capital of Andorra; a small alpine nation squashed in the Pyrenees mountains between Spain and France. Andorra is well-regarded for its beauty, quaintness, and isolation from the rest of Europe. 

 

Andorra la Vella hosts just over 20,000 people. It has no airport and no train station. This isolation, accompanied with the serendipitous immunity of its alpine trees, means that Andorra, right into the 22nd Century, has survived the global spread of nanotechnology relatively untouched -- and the locals there aim to keep it that way.

 

 

Nanotechnology consists of machines and materials made at the nano-scale; the infinitesimal scale of atoms and molecules. Nano-technologists nowadays promise they will soon make intelligent nano-machines to do wondrous things. Amongst the many claims:

 

a) nano-machines will cure the human body of incurable diseases,

 

b) nano-machines will smarten-up our everyday dumb objects by embedding them with a million interconnected nano-sized super-computers, and

 

c) nano-machines will be dispersed over land, sea and air to clean all the pollution from planet.

 

By the end of the 21st century, there may be a slight possibility of moderate success of a few of these projects but nanotechnology has a dark side; providing companies and governments with powerful surveillance and weapons systems, and creating new, invisible, and uncontrollable pollutants. As much pollution and disease they clear up, nanotech will make as many new pollutants and diseases.

 

However, with these new pollutants, there’s virtually no human experience about how they can be managed effectively, and with these new diseases, there’s no innate human immunity to them. Because of their tiny size, and their blundering human-programmed intelligence, nano-machines could easily escape from labs and factories and from human hosts into the environment, infecting animals and plants, killing some and disabling others. The natural world could be irrevocably damaged. Andorra la Vella, by good fortune, manages to escape these negative impacts but that just stiffens the resolve of the city to work at preserving its nano-free status.

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