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Anonymous_Coward4 comments on Total Nano Domination - Less Wrong

11 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 November 2008 09:54AM

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Comment author: Anonymous_Coward4 27 November 2008 04:04:43PM 0 points [-]

There was never a Manhattan moment when a computing advantage temporarily gave one country a supreme military advantage, like the US and its atomic bombs for that brief instant at the end of WW2.

Only if you ignore Colossus, the computer whose impact on the war was so great that in the UK, they destroyed it afterwards rather than risk it falling into enemy hands.

"By the end of the war, 10 of the computers had been built for the British War Department, and they played an extremely significant role in the defeat of Nazi Germany, by virtually eliminating the ability of German Admiral Durnetz to sink American convoys, by undermining German General Irwin Rommel in Northern Africa, and by confusing the Nazis about exactly where the American Invasion at Normandy France, was actually going to take place."

I.E. 10 computers rendered the German navy essentially worthless. I'd call that a 'supreme advantage' in naval military terms.


"The Colossus played a crucial role in D-Day. By understanding where the Germans had the bulk of their troops, the Allies could decide which beaches to storm and what misinformation to spread to keep the landings a surprise."


Sure, it didn't blow people up into little bits like an atomic bomb, but who cares? It stopped OUR guys getting blown up into little bits, and also devastated the opposing side's military intelligence and command/control worldwide. It's rather difficult to measure the lives that weren't killed, and the starvation and undersupply that didn't happen.

Arguably, algorithmic approaches had a war-winning level of influence even earlier: