My species lives on a world that is filled with very few storms, lush environments, and naturally forming metallic monoliths. The species are like humans, but one thing that sets them apart from humans, or any other species is their body.

Their body is made up of a complex colony of nanobots, in which these nanobots take the shape of small elongated sized rhombuses. However, they didn’t naturally form like this, but instead made them.

To give a sense of what they can do with these body’s:

  1. they can form various objects that don’t necessarily have to be connected to the main swarm or, in this case, the body.

  2. if all but one Nanobot is destroyed, then the alien will still live on and create more nanobots through a extremely difficult task or help from another one of its species.

  3. their body can easily take the form of something different, but this is limited, because the mind or body can only control a limited amount, thus not adding more to its body.

But let’s say humans try to make their body’s a nanobot swarm? This leads me to my question.

if humans were to make their body’s into a nanobot swarm, how would they control it, and have the same property's that my species have?

And if possible, yet not necessary, could you explain why us humans would even want a nanobot swarm for a body.

Edit To specify the measurements of the nanobots, The length of the nanobots are at least 2 inches, and have the exact width of a half inch

  • $\begingroup$ All true professions control through shell commands: swarm right-hand close-grip --gentle-round --thumb-opposite --pinky-aligned. Watch out for typos, of course! $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 4, 2020 at 2:36
  • $\begingroup$ @user535733 all true responsible professionals use sudo, they aren't ssh-ing as root. $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2020 at 2:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @AdrianColomitchi you can tell the folks who misuse root - they are the pile of tiny rhombuses twitching feebly after deleting their own network. $\endgroup$
    – user535733
    Mar 4, 2020 at 2:42
  • $\begingroup$ Can you explain what the Sudo tag and root mean, I really want to improve this question so that it can be less opinion based and more suited for this world building site $\endgroup$
    – RotNDecay
    Mar 4, 2020 at 2:44
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "The length of the nanobots are at least 2 inches, and have the exact width of a half inch" that's... a contradiction in terms. nanobot robots whose components are at or near the scale of a nanometer (10e−9 meters). More specifically, nanorobotics (as opposed to microrobotics) refers to the nanotechnology engineering discipline of designing and building nanorobots, with devices ranging in size from 0.1–10 micrometres and constructed of nanoscale or molecular components. FYI: "2 inches = 0.0508 meters" far larger than 10e-9 meters. $\endgroup$ Mar 4, 2020 at 4:03

2 Answers 2


Th nanobots aren't actually nanobots, but this has already been pointed out. I would like to focus on the effect of replacing the entire body with these bots.

Artificial Intelligence
Since you don't specify any organic material left in these people, I would assume they also lack an organic brain. This means their thinking is done by an artificial intelligence, a copy of their true being so to speak. Now due to their technology level, I would assume their AI is very advanced and capable of simulating complex emotions. However I don't really expect these creatures to have many of these emotions at any time. Their intelligence will be higher than humans, but their creativity, adaptability, and problem solving skills would be much lower. A bit of left-brain, right-brain shift so to speak.

Modular supercomputer
Since you state they can regenerate from just one bot, this means each and every bot has a full copy or backup of the entire being. This will take quite some storage and computing power, and might limit the functionality of each bot due to the size of the components. But I'll handwave this for now as I don't know how small their technology can be. Effectively the storage will be needed in each bot, but computing power can be shared throughout bots. Severely limiting their intelligence and movement when more bots are destroyed (hence the painstaking project of restoration).

As they function as a single decision making supercomputer, I suppose control would mainly come from the sensory data. They will react to whatever they hear, see, touch, etc. But since I doubt a full sensory nervous system can be simulated by one bot that size, I will assume they have bots with different functions. They will have "Eye" bots and "Ear" bots etc. So they could lose certain limbs as any human, and would need to rebuild that specific part. But control over the body would mainly be initiated by these parts on top of the hierarchy, and interpreted/calculated by the rest of the body instantly.

They would also be effectively (semi-)immortal. Humans suffer most from deterioration of the body, due to data corruption during cell replication. This process can be much more efficient for them, so they would have much longer lifespans. Of course eventually they would still suffer from data corruption, so they would either stop being themselves, or die.


With your description of the units being 2" by 0.5", the answer to "how does a human control them" is "however they want to be controlled. An object that size would have considerable ability to make "decisions," and thus controlling them might be on par with controlling a mosquito swarm or a school of fish.

... which is actually doable. Schools of fish absolutely interact with us at a level that we can comprehend. The ultimate example of this is dolphin bubble fishing, where the dolphins use bubbles of air to circle around a bait-ball and cut off their escape. They then draw the ball a little tighter, and wait near the surface for the bait fish to jump out of the water to escape (right into the mouths of the waiting dolphins).

If the units are smaller, the game is similar but more complex. Arguably our own cells meet many (if not all) of the requirements these nanobots do. Much of how we control these systems is by being aware of how the units interact with one another. We control our heart rate by varying sodium levels in key nodes, knowing that the complex interactions between heart cells will result in an increased heart rate rather than a deadly arrhythmia. Its simply a learning game, and the brain has literally evolved to be tremendously good at learning.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .