In a post last week, we stated that a concerted early development project for molecular manufacturing is probably a good idea for a variety of reasons. But this idea alone is not sufficient, in our view. To be most effective, the early development program should be an international effort, or at least a joint product of many leading nations.
It appears that the development of molecular nanotechnology manufacturing systems is inevitable. They are too useful; they will keep getting easier to develop; and even their dangerous qualities may be attractive to several kinds of groups. The question, then, is not whether to develop them, but how: on what schedule, and with what project architecture?
On our main website, we have a full page devoted to the design of a development project(s). Is it best to have one project, or a few, or many? Is there a reason to prefer an international project over a national or corporate project? CRN's preliminary conclusion is that a single international project is best. It allows the most control, and also directly reduces some of the risks.
Without some controls, advanced nanotechnology will probably be extremely dangerous--but desirable to many people. In addition, manufacturing systems will probably be portable and easy to duplicate. This means that it will be quite hard to control the use of the technology if unrestricted versions ever become widely available. On the other hand, overly restrictive policy will encourage uncontrolled release. It seems that an early, closely guarded, international development program is the approach that retains the most control in the long run.
CRN will continue working to clarify this issue and make specific recommendations.