All available evidence points to the conclusion that it is not a matter of if, but when and how and by whom exponential general-purpose molecular manufacturing will be developed.
Desktop manufacturing is on its way; we can detect an increasing number of routes to get there; the major gating factor at this time is conceptual, not financial or technical. Someone somewhere sometime will decide to invest a suitable amount of time and money to reach the goal. It will not be easy, but it will be achieved.
CRN does not have any predictions about when this WILL happen. We've stated that a dedicated crash program with enough funding and manpower probably COULD be successful in under a decade, conceivably in less than five years. It may take much longer than that, but prudence -- and possibly our survival -- demands that we prepare now for the earliest plausible development scenario.
As for the question of by whom, there is a strong argument to be made for the advisability of a single international program of development. In the first place, molecular nanotechnology manufacturing will be powerful and dangerous, and once control of the technology is lost, it will be hard to regain. International development may reduce the number of programs -- and security leaks -- and it may help to prevent a new arms race. In addition, a successful international development program should prevent a corporate monopoly, though it could still allow for plenty of legitimate profit-making.
CRN urges cooperative international development. We believe the benefits are great enough to support working toward this goal, no matter how difficult and unlikely its attainment may appear. If there comes a time when this is clearly impossible, then we may have to judge which alternatives are preferable.