Our look at CRN's thirty essential studies has moved into the final section, which covers "Policies and Policymaking". Recommended studies in this section assume the existence of a general-purpose molecular manufacturing system. All preliminary answers in this section are based on diamondoid nanofactory technology.
Today we'll examine study #18: "What new products will the system make accessible?"
For each suggested field, determine if a molecular manufacturing system would allow significant advances compared with what can be built by alternative systems.
Subquestion A: Aerospace?
Preliminary answer: Yes. Figure an airplane (spacecraft, missile) might weigh 1% of its current dry weight, with essentially unlimited onboard computer power. Also, smaller actuators will make shape-changing and active skin feasible and even cheap. Continuously inverting skin might allow more efficient and higher-speed designs.
Subquestion B: Computational systems: data mining, strong artificial intelligence?
Preliminary answer: For comparison, the NEC Earth Simulator could be built in a cubic millimeter and draw 2 watts.
Subquestion C: Medical, including human enhancement?
Preliminary answer: Yes. A basic computer/sensor package could be smaller than a neuron. This could easily allow direct high-bandwidth brain-to-computer communication; already, primitive brain-implanted electrode arrays have detected a rat's position with respect to its cage, a monkey's intention to move its arm, and the image from a cat's optical nerve.
Subquestion D: Weapons (a very broad category)?
Preliminary answer: Yes. For example: micro UAVs with sufficient functionality to be loaded with chemical poisons; electrical power density high enough to enable new classes of projectile weapons; cheap deployment of massive systems or networks; expanding-microtruss fuel-air explosives; much easier access to space.
Provisional conclusion: Diamondoid nanofactory molecular manufacturing would allow fundamentally new products in several important and problematic areas. It is impossible to predict or make a comprehensive list of all products that could be created.
Our initial basic findings (preliminary answers and provisional conclusions) for all thirty studies should be verified as rapidly as possible. Because our understanding points to a crisis, a parallel process of conducting these studies is strongly preferred.
We are actively looking for researchers who have an interest 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.