Browse Definitions :
Definition

gray goo (or grey goo)

Gray goo (or, in British spelling, "grey goo") is a term used to describe what life on our planet might become if self-replicating robots or nanomachines got out of control and began to use up life forms for their own energy needs in some unstoppable way.

The term was first used in K. Eric Drexler in his seminal book about nanotechnology, Engines of Creation. Michael Crichton's Prey is one of several science fiction novels about gray goo catastrophes. The possibility of all of us becoming a lifeless conglomeration of gray goo, whether by accident or by robotic intent, is considered exceedingly unlikely. However, it has been taken seriously enough by one researcher, Robert Freitas, to suggest some public policy recommendations.

In self-replication at the "nano" or molecular level, some source of energy would be needed and it would seem that these would be the same sources used by life forms or from life forms themselves (just as human beings derive energy from eating other animals that have obtained their energy from lower life forms). In the competition for energy with nanomachines, human beings might find themselves unable to adapt quickly enough through natural evolution, ultimately falling prey to their own intellectual creations.

A significant argument against the possibility of a gray goo situation is that engineers should be able to build in limiting conditions for self-replication. One writer, Chris Phoenix, says that it is as unlikely that a molecular manufacturing system could degenerate into unstoppable self-replication as that a drill press or lathe might self-replicate. Phoenix refers to nanorobots that self-replicate only for the limited purpose of a specific task, such as cleaning and closing a wound.

Variations on this term include:

  • Black goo or red gloo, the use of nanomachines by terrorists or nihilist to destroy all or some segment of humanity.
  • Pink gloo, a view of humanity itself, which can be seen as a self-replicating entity with a tendency to fill up existing space.
  • Green gloo, the idea of some antidote to the tendency of pink gloo to spread, perhaps limiting its ability to reproduce.

See a video, The invasion of gray goo:

This was last updated in February 2016

Continue Reading About gray goo (or grey goo)

Join the conversation

1 comment

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.

Interesting theory. I'll never see it in my lifetime. The closet thing we have today to something using up others energy and lifeforce are politicians.
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

  • Whistleblower Protection Act

    The Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 is a law that protects federal government employees in the United States from ...

  • smart contract

    A smart contract, also known as a cryptocontract, is a computer program that directly controls the transfer of digital currencies...

  • risk map (risk heat map)

    A risk map, also known as a risk heat map, is a data visualization tool for communicating specific risks an organization faces. A...

SearchSecurity

  • buffer underflow

    Buffer underflow, also known as buffer underrun or buffer underwrite, is a threat to data that typically occurs when the ...

  • digital signature

    A digital signature is a mathematical technique used to validate the authenticity and integrity of a message, software or digital...

  • denial-of-service attack

    A denial-of-service attack is a security event that occurs when an attacker prevents legitimate users from accessing specific ...

SearchHealthIT

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • virtual disaster recovery

    Virtual disaster recovery is a type of DR that typically involves replication and allows a user to fail over to virtualized ...

  • tabletop exercise (TTX)

    A tabletop exercise (TTX) is a disaster preparedness activity that takes participants through the process of dealing with a ...

  • risk mitigation

    Risk mitigation is a strategy to prepare for and lessen the effects of threats faced by a data center.

SearchStorage

  • secondary storage

    Secondary storage is storage for noncritical data that does not need to be frequently accessed.

  • Pure Storage

    Pure Storage is a provider of enterprise data flash storage solutions designed to substitute for electromechanical disk arrays.

  • yobibyte (YiB)

    A yobibyte (YiB) is a unit of measure used to describe data capacity as part of the binary system of measuring computing and ...

Close