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« Nanotechnology Toolbox | Main | The Hollowness of Denial »

August 15, 2004


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hello its me again :) I will attempt to correctly punctuated and paragraphed my statements as I cannot spell and have no real knowledge on writing and the rules of punctuation this remark will likely be colorful.

For me when we discuss molecular manufacturing and its implications of the issues boil down to "freedom" that is the freedom of the individual to do what he or she wishes. The design and rollout of molecular manufacturing although complicated will be accomplished and will grant freedom to all man this should be the first goal.

It seems that one might consider what is reasonable for change, when one considers the current state of affairs across the myriad of countries existing today and the complexities of their interactions, one wonders how one could achieve the transition with the smallest loss of life and the greatest freedom to the individual. This should be the second goal.

MM even in a simplest form represents unlimited manufacturing based on the only restriction of availability of energy as energy can be created and manipulated in a great many ways this fundamental restriction doesn't seem that restrictive. So to achieve our first goal we must establish a reasonable plan for rolling out the assembler is across firstly the country that manufactures the assembler it seems unlikely that a plan to deploy the assembler across the entire planet could succeed given the scale and size of the undertaking and indeed even a countrywide rollout of the country the size of the United States would also be complicated. Now if we consider the likelihood of a military production of the first assembler then we are left with the military governing the rollout and the possibility that the military will attempt not to deploy the molecular manufacturing to the general public. The seems unlikely to succeed as the military will wish to gain the greatest benefit from the new technology and will deploy the assembler is around the military bases of a given country in the case of United States this with No. in the many hundreds of locations. That said there is presidents for the military to maintain secrecy given the importance of the technology i.e. atomic storehouses of weaponry and its unavailability to the general public. Also it should be noted the likelihood the military will use the technology to produce medical equipment to benefit the soldiers and personnel of the military and government. In the event of secrecy this element would be difficult to maintain secrets as 4 million plus individuals would be gaining the benefits of MM and seems likely would cause discontent, among the general populace. As we are seen in United States a new government can easily be replaced every four years so even in a situation where a government refuses to allow the deployments of molecular manufacturing to the general populace that government can be replaced and a new government can be put in place in under four years. This to me with the worst-case scenario as the delay will cause great harm and suffering by the general populace of both the world and the country in question.

So once again we see the inevitability of deployments of the molecular assembler and again are first goal should be freedom. And our second goal should be the deployments which provides for the minimum loss of life. My current strategy for the deployment the MM is for the government to set up a group of distribution points around the United States in the case where the United States gains the technology first. These points could be for sake of discussion large department stores such as Wal-Mart Sears target Kmart and the like. As these locations have considerable access to the common man and the infrastructure i.e. parking and proximity to the individual I believe they are good candidates for a centralized location driven rollout. Once again if a timeframe was established and information provided to everyone as to the locations and dates of availability that is radio and TV broadcasts of locations where the assembler's could be picked up in my mind this should ease the initial rush to obtain the assembler at any cost, this represents one of the initial fears and prevents the possibility of rioting that could accompany the rollout of the technology. Also one could as I said before create a series of initial designs for useful products where the average individual would find need, the list should include kitchen products like knives Forks spoons all way to extremely reliable and safe vehicles to large self-contained fully automated greenhouses and homes for the individual. It is my opinion that these two elements would provide for a safe and reasonable rollout without the hysteria that might accompany a haphazard deployments of the technology.

As I said before one of my other fears for this technology is the availability of food post molecular manufacturing. This this is derived from the likelihood of large groups of individuals not going to work the next day. As I am poor and have worked many jobs over the years with many companies I have noted that a substantial portion of individuals working daily dislike their job and if could find another job or another way of living with take the latter at a moment's notice. So we are left with the likelihood that 20 percent or more individuals once obtaining the freedom given to them by molecular manufacturing would choose that freedom over the drudgery of their current life. Following this line of thought through we see a situation where large numbers of truck drivers do not arrive back at work slowing the distribution of all things including food we also see a situation where a grocery store having to malfunction with a severely depleted staff would find it difficult to provide the level of service everyone is accustomed to. We also see looking ahead even just a week after deployments where products are no longer being purchased at distribution points once again similar to Wal-Mart Kmart and the like this puts considerable pressure on the production sales and distribution of products if we move forward another week we see a scenario where company products that are being produced in large warehouses even if the staff of the manufacturing site were to arrive at work their product is no longer being purchased by the individuals and their jobs are in jeopardy. There has been some discussion on placing a tariff or per copy cost for downloading a product this would provide for a continuation of the market economy is my opinion this will fail because in the case of a manufacturing Co. even if the company such as Ford motors was to sell a copy on line of its automobile the company does not need employees to produce the automobile and will lay off the production staff this translates to several million jobs in United States that would be lost in the opening few weeks of post molecular assembler. Once again there's no reason for a large corporation to maintain its employees when the employees themselves are not producing any products. The design staff and some management staff could continue to work on new products but the overwhelming number of individuals working at the company would be let go this would cause unprecedented unemployment throughout the given country. It should be noted that this would also give freedom to the common man as he now has the time to fully exploit the new technology and explore a new way of living. And as stated above if a core group of products where designed and ready for the deployments than the unemployment of the common man could be used as a contributing positive and useful transition that can be beneficial to the society as a whole. In this scenario education of everyone from the common man to corporate leaders to government and military officials is extremely important and should be given the utmost priority. So with that said we're back to the availability of food for the individual as one will still need to eat after the molecular assembler. So the plans should include as part of the rollout of the molecular assembler a contingency to feed the populace for a period of time post molecular assembler again as stated above the military could produce large numbers of distributed greenhouses across the United States and produce quantities of food for the common man. This would then be augmented by production of food by the individual once the availability of greenhouses and other contributing technologies are available. This particular example is given only in the event that food cannot be produced by first generation molecular assembler.

Now once we have deployed and educated the general populace as well as provided food and the means to produce quantities of food to the general populace we will of accomplished the first goal which is freedom.

I would like to address the concerns with what has been described as how can dangerous weapons be controlled and perilous arms races be prevented. We are left with a series of eventualities that is the inevitability of the availability of molecular manufacturing to the general populace and the uncertainty of its use by the general populace as well as a group of morally questionable individuals that will possess great power I am reminded of a whole thing with great power comes great responsibility I'm also reminded of another saying power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. There are many many possible scenarios where this technology can be used even by individuals to cause substantial distraction and loss of life if they individual or group of individuals decides to actively pursue the distraction of a class or group of people post molecular manufacturing it will be difficult to prevent this from happening. There has been discussion of utilizing a worldwide grid of information finding and monitoring of individuals and groups to prevent or to give some time to react to the aggressor. We are immediately confronted with the question as to who should monitor the world to prevent atrocities. There are no easy answers here when the everything is said and done is likely the first owners of the technology will wish to control and monitor the use of the technology throughout the entire world in the case of the United States achieving this goal first and if the other stated goals are followed that is freedom and smallest loss of life than one can hope that a reasonable an equitable balance can be achieved that brings the greatest benefits to all mankind

Personally I am left with a piece of wisdom granted me some time ago one hopes for the best and plans for the worst. I have been reviewing the maps of the world as of late looking for a location where personal safety can be maintained and a comfortable meaningful life can be live there are several possibilities from living on the aircraft to living on a boat to living beneath the ocean to living at one of the polls that is the North Pole or the South Pole on the ice sheets to living underground and even to living in space. The greatest safety and personal freedom will be achieved by living in space away from the common man as this technology does not exist today we are left with a choice here on earth. Once again if the molecular assembler cannot produce food we are somewhat restricted in the opening few days by the need to build a the infrastructure that produces food and the time delay between planting and harvesting of the food stock. Given the sheer volume and number of individuals that will possess the technology after the rollout and the lack of control by a governing force it is my opinion moving away from large groups of people and allowing for some time to pass for the transition to the new technology to take hold is a wise and fruitful decision. As land is likely to be disputed and considered extremely valuable also given the possibility of invasion by other countries wishing to gain more land and Notting that land ownership will be likely colorful post molecular assembler that is if an individual owns a few thousand acres of land and the government or society decides that individuals do not need that much land things are likely to get out of hand. Following a train of thought moving to location where land is plentiful or not owned scenes wise the open oceans would be a good choice although they do not necessarily possess land they do hold great open spaces the other choice would be one of the polls I could be mistaken but I believe no one owns the North Pole and surrounding ice sheets although the climate is inhospitable with some preparation a move to the ice could be attained. Hopefully we are looking at only a few months to perhaps a few years of transition time post molecular assembler to give individuals time to become accustomed to the new standard of living and to allow for a worldwide consensus as to a reasonable set of laws and moral behavior as well as a the equitable distribution of available land to the individuals of the world.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Hi, Todd. Thanks for making the effort to punctuate and use paragraphs. It really makes a big difference in readability.

I think you may be right that the oceans will be a better place to be than the land. A design for a seaworthy raft/boat with basic survival equipment would be relatively simple and could move a lot of people out of harm's way.

Now we just have to solve the problem of how to keep the nasty fraction of people from spoiling it for everyone...


Tom Craver

Just an adder to the "raft" thought - You don't need nanotech to build large rafts - the obvious building material would be ice. The obvious problem with that is how to keep it from melting.

Maybe nanotech could produce the ice making equipment and solar panels to power it. What could you make the insulator from? You can probably pull carbon out of the air or water and make some sort of plastic.

Brett Bellmore

You don't really have to keep the ice from melting, just slow the process, and control it. After all, glaciers form all the time, new "land", and you DO need fresh water.

Brett Bellmore

Excuse me, icebergs. Too early in the morning to be posting, I guess.

Malcolm McCauley

Just throught I'd add a link to a story about Geoffrey Pyke and Pykrete


He was a British eccentric who invented Pykrete, which is ice mixed with wood pulp while it freezes. His plan during WWII was to use it to make a half mile long nearly indestructible ship. While this was never made, a prototype was. But the Allies landed at Normandy, making most ships plans useless.

Tom Craver

Brett: Yeah, I thought of that, but I was concerned that the incident solar power might not be sufficient to keep it frozen. I was going for a local-resources-only approach (little or nothing imported from land - especially not any form of fuel).

One could make solar collectors as hollow shells that float - no need to be limited to the area of the ice island - and surround your ice island with them. That'd probably give you enough power - and the shells could also support panels to damp convection currents so the ice island sits in a large puddle of freezing temperature saltwater.

Pykrete is interesting - wood is pretty cheap, being made by natural nanotech - though it'd be nice if some resource local to the middle of the ocean could be used instead. You could probably mine the atmosphere for carbon (no nanotech required for that) and make a plastic fiber that'd work as well as wood fiber for increasing the berg-island's strength. Or you could dredge stuff up from the bottom in shallower areas.

Mike Deering

Estimated Abundance of Elements (in relative atomic %)

Earth                 Earth's crust                             Earth's Atmosphere                 Universe                 Sun                                       Humans

Oxygen 50           Oxygen 47               *               Nitrogen 78                 *                 Hydrogen 92.47           Hydrogen 90.99           Hydrogen 61

Iron17                     Silicon 28              *               Oxygen 21               *                                 Helium 7.40           Helium 8.87           Oxygen 26

Silicon 14           Aluminium 8.1               *               Argon 0.93               *               Oxygen 0.06           Oxygen 0.078           Carbon 10.5

Magnesium 14           Iron 5.0               *               Carbon 0.03               *               Carbon 0.03           Carbon 0.033           Nitrogen 2.4

Sulphur 1.6           Calcium 3.6               *               Neon 0.0018               *               Nitrogen 0.01           Neon 0.011           Calcium 0.23

Nickel 1.1                     Sodium 2.8               *               Helium 0.00052               *          Neon 0.01           Nitrogen 0.010           Phosphorus 0.13

Aluminium 1.1           Potassium 2.6                         *                   *                   *               Others 0.01               Magnesium 0.004           Sulphur 0.13

We appear to have a shortage of carbon, but these number don't tell the whole story. A vast reservoir of carbon is stashed beneath the Earth's crust and could be released by a major volcanic eruption, unleashing a mass extinction of a kind that last occurred 200 million years ago.

Researchers have known for years that carbon is stored in the Earth's mantle, a layer of plasticky rock that lies beneath the planet's fragile crust.

Exactly how much is down there is unknown. Most estimates, drawn from analyses of gases emerging from the mantle, say the store is many times more than all the carbon in the Earth's atmosphere, sea and crust combined.

"The (mantle) reservoir of carbon is just gigantic compared with anything that we have on the Earth's surface," says Hans Keppler, a professor at the Institute of Sciences at Germany's University of Tuebingen.

Brett Bellmore

I've got a hard time believing that we're going to need so much carbon on Earth for nanotech, that we'd ever have to dip into the mantle for it. That would be one heck of a lot of nanomachinery!

Besides, while diamondoid nanotech is likely to be superior, most applications could get by with mostly silica, as we expand the range of structures we can manufacture. The stuff isn't exactly weak if manufactured without defect, and it's lying all over the place.

Mike Deering

Sorry about the jumbled columns. See if this works better.

Estimated Abundance of Elements (in relative atomic %)

Earth                     Earth's crust           Earth's Atmosphere

Oxygen 50           Oxygen 47           Nitrogen 78

Iron17                     Silicon 28             Oxygen 21

Silicon 14           Aluminium 8.1           Argon 0.93

Magnesium 14           Iron 5.0           Carbon 0.03

Sulphur 1.6           Calcium 3.6           Neon 0.0018

Nickel 1.1                     Sodium 2.8           Helium 0.00052

Aluminium 1.1           * * * * * * *           Potassium 2.6

Estimated Abundance of Elements (in relative atomic %)

Universe                     Sun                 Humans

Hydrogen 92.47           Hydrogen 90.99           Hydrogen 61

Helium 7.40           Helium 8.87             Oxygen 26

Oxygen 0.06           Oxygen 0.078           Carbon 10.5

Carbon 0.03           Carbon 0.033           Nitrogen 2.4

Nitrogen 0.01      Neon 0.011      Calcium 0.23

Neon 0.01                     Nitrogen 0.010           Phosphorus 0.13

Others 0.01           Magnesium 0.004           Sulphur 0.13

Brett Bellmore

Yup, given relative elemental abundances, I'd say an early extention of diamondoid nanotech would be the inclusion of silica and saphire. Which have the nice advantage of NOT being highly flamable.

John B

To quote the initial piece,
"At CRN, we believe it's not too early to begin asking some tough questions about molecular manufacturing and facing the issues:

- Who will own the technology?
- Will it be heavily restricted, or widely available?
- What will it do to the gap between rich and poor?
- How can dangerous weapons be controlled, and perilous arms races be prevented?"

You folks raise truely important questions, but don't address 'em.

Who'll own the technology is a huge one. If it's public domain, how do you control it? If it's private domain, how can you expect it to spread the benefits to the whole world?

Will it be restricted, and to what degree is another huge one. If it isn't, we face all sorts of ugliness, up to and including potentially grey goo scenarios - and well past them, for that matter. If it is, who'll be able to afford the licensing fees, assuming there is such an opportunity. (Don't tell me big business doesn't see the advantage to a new monopoly undercutting many other commercial processes!)

What'll it do to the gap between the 'haves' and 'have-nots' is another huge issue, but this is addressed indirectly with the two questions before it, IMO. If you know who 'owns' the tech, and what kind of regulation(s) apply to the use of that technology, then you'll be able to project what kind of effects it may have on socioeconomic factors, including but not limited to the wealth gap.

Finally, the question which I fear may be used to increse restrictions more than any other, at least in public debate - fear of the weaponization of nanotech. Given that most people have learned about nanotechnology from Prey and similar sources, this will be among the most useful scaremonger concepts to use to restrict nanotechnology. It is also one which will require some careful preplanning to combat before it happens.

Your thoughts?
-John B

Chris Phoenix, CRN

On raft construction materials: Given that most materials need to be bulky to implement compressive strength, but molecular manufacturing-built structures can efficiently convert any stress into tensile stress, it's likely that the construction material of choice will be pure nano-built stuff. My general rule of thumb is: take today's structural members and divide their weight by 100-1000. By this measure, even "primitive nanofactory" built stuff is cost-competitive with steel and plastic.

Some of the strength-creating designs, like inflated pressure tanks, may be mostly collapsible, which will be convenient in many applications.

A raft or boat of ice or pykrete will be far more massive, and thus less efficient, than the equivalent design of nanostuff.


Chris Phoenix, CRN

John B, I agree with you that we don't answer these questions. Simply knowing what questions to ask is hard enough, and I'm still not sure we've got the right mix. We hope to inspire studies of the questions by other groups with more resources.


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