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« Public Speaking | Main | China and the Environment »

October 06, 2004


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Formally, the different Styles could be described by
a) Who may know about the program, limited or unlimited number of people.
b) Who may contribute to the program, limited or unlimited number of people.
The combination "limited read access" and "unlimited write access" seems to be invalid, since the number of deliberate contributors obviously is capped by the number of those who know about it; by contrast the other 3 combinations are possible and should all be represented.

Accordingly, I want to suggest a new value for the Approach dimension, called "Public". The difference between Covert, Public, and Open would be kind of like the difference between the openness of the Manhattan Project, of the Apollo Program, and of any Open Source development.
The Manhattan Project was top secret, nobody outside it was allowed to know about it, not to mention contribute to it. Covert, obviously.
In the Apollo Program everybody could see what was being developed, but only the limited number of directly involved scientists, engineers, decision makers etc. could actually influence the project, thus the style was Public.
In Open Source there is no limitation on who may or may not contribute to or know about it, so it would be the Open style.
Another set of examples for the 3 values would be: secret Intelligence reports, a commercial encyclopedia, a Wiki project.

I believe the new value for this dimension is not redundant since it has a different meaning than Open and it can be freely combined with any value of any other dimension.

I have already edited the entry, if you like the suggestion I´d like to ask the author of dimensions.jpg (Mike?) to change it accordingly, to match the font type and size.

Mike Deering

Matt, I like your idea. It is of course a median point between completely secret and completely open but I think it is a useful distiction. Most projects will fall into this category where the goals of the effort are openly communicated but the details of the progress are kept secret for IP reasons.

Mike Treder, CRN

Matt, I like your thinking and I have made the changes to the chart, both in the blog entry above and in the Wise-Nano article. Thanks!


I just noticed one has to log in with an account to edit pages. Why so? I think this should be changed to remove an unnecessary barrier.

Janessa Ravenwood

Matt: I'd say it's to try to stop comment spam and see who's making what changes in case someone edits in something really abusive and off-track.


Janessa: The way a wikipedia works prevents such things from staying very long, it is a self-healing system. Vandalism is easy and happens on all wikis but every viewer can undo changes just as easily by simply restoring a previous version, since they all are saved. The funny part is: if the vandal didn´t just delete everything but actually bothered to write coherent (if still off-track) sentences, then restoring is even easier and faster than his act of destroying. This is a very rare situation indeed, hardly to be found anywhere else in life.

The very idea of wikipedias is to make access barriers as low as possible. The syntax is both easy to learn and sufficiently powerful; you don´t have to register if you don´t want to; if you want to register, you don´t even need something as basic as an email acount; you may freely edit, link to, and redistribute any content you want. You can even use the content commercially, if you put it under the same license as it is on the wiki site.

And what´s the point of tracking a user? Creating multiple new accounts is probably faster and easier than for the admin to delete them. Abusive and off-track people fishing for response (a.k.a. trolls) should simply be ignored, which is the best way to treat them everywhere. They will soon lose interest anyway.

In short, the reason why a wiki works so well, and my argument why an even slight control freak approach for wikis must be unnecessary, futile and counter-productive, is a simple fact: There are by far more "good guys" than "bad guys".

Mike Treder, CRN

Matt, I'll get Chris Phoenix to answer your question about the registration requirement on Wise-Nano, since he's the one who set it up. But he's traveling to Las Vegas today for a speaking engagemement, so it might be a little while before he responds.


I have an idea for a new category/group of articles: What I would really like to see is a collection of rebuttals of arguments against the feasibility of molecular manufacturing, like, surface reconstruction, Brownian motion at room temperature, Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle etc..
I often have online & offline discussions about exactly these topics, and I always have the trouble of referencing a credible source. That would be a great addition to the site, coupled with enough external links.

We should also discern between technical and non-technical arguments. While the technical arguments would be pretty much one-sided, because the facts will decide (with current uncertainties and progress at least mentioned of course) or have already decided, the non-technical arguments could be countered or discussed in a pro&contra manner, since with human intervention the answer to these questions is a lot less clear.

I´ve put up a new category as a scaffolding, because, after all, Molecular Manufacturing is what this site is all about. Especially the technical arguments should be answered by the scientists around here! Also add more forms of MM, since besides diamond mechanosynthesis I could only think of DNA MM. I hope you like the idea!

Chris Phoenix, CRN

On editing and login: I will change it later tonight to allow anonymous edits, and see what happens.

On the new category, of technical arguments: I like the idea. I haven't had time to see the implementation. But I am not the owner of Wise-Nano, just the webmaster and also a contributor. CRN isn't the owner either. Wise-Nano site is supposed to be collaborative. So, thanks for going ahead and doing something.

If you haven't listed it as a project, you might want to do that. And to start the argument pages, you might take text from the Molecular Manufacturing Myths that I wrote for Nanotech-Now's press kit. I hereby release those under GFDL, so you can copy text from them onto Wise-Nano.

I'll help with those, but I have one week to do three presentations for two different conferences, so it'll probably be two weeks before I can make a substantial contribution. But you can email me if you see a point you really want me to respond to.

On "MM is what the site is all about"--that's not quite the intention. If someone can show that another kind of nanotech will be impactful enough to need wisdom, then the site is also about that. I can think of at least three possible cases: Medical implications; Non-fossil power; Runaway AI. CRN focuses on MM because we think that's the biggest and most urgent problem, but again, CRN does not own Wise-Nano; we just host it. I think it'd be cool to have a debate on Wise-Nano about the relative importance of MM research and Smalley-style nanoscale-tech energy research. I think I'd win, but there's always the chance I might learn something. But I don't want to start the debate as a strawman or placeholder; someone will have to come along and seriously argue the other side.



About the intention of Wise-Nano: Medical implications and non-fossil power sources are part of MM. Some time ago you, Chris, wrote something along the lines of "Develop molecular computers, and you have them; develop cheap solar cells and you have them; develop MM and you not only have such computers and solar cells, but also superior space ships, exponentially growing production capacity, and everything else that can be designed and is allowed by natural laws." So, even if I grossly misquoted you there, that would be exactly my line of reasoning, too. Moreover, medical implications already have their representation on Wise-Nano; questions of energy supply and its sources fit nicely in the environmental and economic effects categories. All of them are summarized under "Effects", meaning "effects of nanotechnology and its products". Thus they indeed are topics of Wise-Nano, but with lower importance than MM if I got that right.

AI: Now that you mention it, I´d love to see AI on Wise-Nano, but unfortunately, apart from a single article in Comp Sci Help it currently has no mention, let alone its own category. I guess if noone else does, I´m going to set up a crude category scaffolding for AI, although other people have certainly given more thought to AI; I´m more interested in MM. Anyway, the lack of other topics led me to conclude that WN was indeed all about "advanced nanotechnology" (main page), i.e. MM.

My suggestion would then be to at least edit the main page and include an additional "implications of advanced nanotechnology and all technologies that...., like AI." Then, however, the correspondent categories had to be set up. The good thing about it is: it seems, once MM and AI are covered, there won´t remain much that completely falls outside of either of them.

Mike Treder, CRN

Go for it, Matt! You've done a lot of good work so far. And remember, Wise-Nano is not Chris's site, or CRN's -- it belongs to all users equally, so take as much ownership as you like. If activity grows as much as we hope and expect it will, there will be many others who will build on your foundational efforts.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

"Advanced nanotechnology" on the wise-nano homepage was not intended to indicate molecular manufacturing only. If it turns out that MM leaves everything else in the dust, then the site will reflect that. If it turns out that bio-nano (maybe leading to radical health extension, human augmentation, etc) is as much of a concern as MM (maybe leading to economic upheaval, geopolitical instability, societal disruption, etc), then bio-nano should find a place on the site.

AI falls under MM, at least in part. MM will build massive computers (world-class supercomputers in a grain of rice), allowing faster AI R&D and more powerful implementations. Also, MM will enable computer-designing AIs to build improved versions of themselves. AI will happen without MM, but will happen a lot sooner and more abruptly with MM.


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