The Foresight Institute’s annual Senior Associates Gathering is a unique event. I have never experienced anything quite like it, and I’ve attended dozens of conferences over the last 25 years. What makes this one special is the impressive collection of progress-oriented thinkers -- including world-class scientists and engineers, educators, writers, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and social activists -- all gathered in one place. The event is designed to be informal, with lots of open dialogue encouraged, which is refreshing. But the organizers did a great job of staying on schedule and keeping the sessions flowing smoothly from one into another. Kudos to Foresight President Christine Peterson and her talented staff!
There were numerous people there that I had the opportunity to meet in person for the first time: scientists like Ralph Merkle, Robert Freitas, and J. Storrs (Josh) Hall; Neil Jacobstein, Chairman of the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing; Steve Jurvetson, Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson; Brad Templeton, Chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation; and Luke Nosek, co-founder of PayPal.
I also renewed acquaintances with top minds like Ramez Naam, CEO of Apex NanoTechnologies; Eliezer Yudkowsky, Research Fellow at the Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence; Wrye Sententia, co-director of the Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics; and, of course, K. Eric Drexler, founder of the Foresight Institute.
It was a pleasant surprise to find that CRN is quite well known and respected within the Foresight community. My opinion was often sought during group discussions and many references were made to the important work that CRN is doing.
Some of the talks and breakout sessions concerned technical advancements, but most were focused on the societal implications and policy issues associated with molecular manufacturing. I had the privilege of delivering the final plenary presentation, on the topic of "Challenges of Nanotechnology".
During my presentation, I mentioned CRN's discovery of a group in Russia that is building powerful instruments and promoting the development of molecular nanotechnology. Several people wanted to know more information about their "Nanotechnological System".
Many attendees told me they enjoyed my speech, but not everyone was convinced that the challenges of nanotechnology would require the kind of international cooperative administration recommended by CRN. Naturally I did not expect complete agreement, and I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to present our concerns to such a large and potentially influential audience.