Smartdust is a class of small electro-mechanical devices that are a few millimeters in size or smaller. They are often envisioned as having networking capabilities that allow them to connect to the internet. The following are illustrative examples of smartdust.
A variety of small, inexpensive sensors. This could potentially result in universal measurement of everything, everywhere.
TrackingImplants that transmit an electronic id that can be used to track things, animals or people. Current RFID tracking tags are slightly larger than a grain of rice and can be detected from hundreds of meters away. Such tags are only likely to get smaller. These represent an obvious security and privacy risk due to their small size and low price such that they could be embedded in everything.
Small devices that perform work that are autonomous or semi-autonomous. Such devices could potentially coordinate work as a swarm.Implanting smartdust into everyday objects to extend their functionality. This is essentially a type of miniaturized embedded system.
Self-replicating smartdust that would represent an existential risk. In theory, small self-replicating machines could consume all the resources on the planet within a relatively short period of time.
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