If potential benefits of molecular nanotechnology (MNT) sound too good to be true, there is one caveat — the potential dangers of molecular nanotechnology. When nanofactories can arrange atoms into structures — playing with the building blocks of life itself, or in this case nanoblocks -- theoretically anything allowable by the laws of physics can be created fast and cheap. Requirements include a few square feet for the nanofactory, the software, and an electrical outlet.
Criminals, terrorists, disturbed individuals, governments, and antisocial groups of all stripes would be incredibly empowered by such technology. Additional potential dangers of molecular nanotechnology threaten the economy, environment, human rights, and world peace. The rush to gain supremacy through nanoweaponry could lead to a new arms race, while attempts to stranglehold the technology would likely result in independent, covert development. Unilateral, "open-source" international cooperation is another option that runs its own risks, and control in the public sector could lead to inequitable benefits and an Orwellian society. The probability factor of certain potential dangers of molecular nanotechnology will be higher than others, but all are possible within a scope of circumstances that, without prevention through forethought and planning, could feasibly come to pass. Some dangers cannot be discounted even with said planning, while others can reasonably be assumed to be goals of recognized subversive elements.