CRN believes it is urgent to understand several issues related to molecular manufacturing (MM), to prepare for its possible development sometime in the next decade. The technology will be more transformative than most people expect, and could develop too rapidly for reactive policy to succeed. MM is the result of convergence of many technologies, and will benefit from synergies between them. It will be more powerful than most people will comprehend without serious study.
Molecular manufacturing, along with other technologies that it will enhance or enable, will create new problems and new opportunities that require new solutions. To date, there has not been anything approaching an adequate study of these issues.
In view of the near complete dearth of relevant and comprehensive studies, CRN has prepared a list of the thirty most essential topics that must be examined. We have published the list in a PDF file for download, and also as a series of web pages for online review.
The thirty recommended studies are organized in several sections. The first section covers the fundamental theory: insights that may be counterintuitive or unobvious and need explanation, but that can be double-checked by simple thought. The second section addresses technological capabilities of possible molecular manufacturing technologies. The third section addresses 'bootstrapping'—the development of the first self-contained molecular manufacturing system (which will then be able to produce duplicates at an exponential rate), including schedule considerations. The fourth section explores the capabilities of products, building toward the fifth section, which raises serious questions about policies and policymaking.
The situation is extremely urgent. The stakes are unprecedented, and the world is unprepared for the projected impacts of diamondoid nanofactory molecular manufacturing.
CRN's initial basic findings of these studies should be verified as rapidly as possible (months, not years). Policy preparation and planning for implementation, likely including a crash development program, should begin immediately. Because our understanding points to a crisis, a parallel process of conducting these studies is urged.
We are actively looking for researchers interested in performing or assisting with this work. Please contact CRN Research Director Chris Phoenix if you would like more information or if you have comments on the proposed studies.