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« Future Inventions | Main | Transformative Impacts »

December 28, 2004


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Hal Finney

I think the real question is the one you mentioned: if Drexlerian nanotech won't work, as seems (IMO) to be the mainstream view, what justification is there for either the hype or the fear? Don't we need an equivalent of Nanosystems but without the diamondoid and robot arms, to prove that nanotech will really be able to remake the world? The whole point of that book was to make the case for the technology truly being transformative. But if that technological approach is ruled out, how do we know that nanotech can truly accomplish all that much? Nanopants and sunscreens hardly make the case.

John B

I think a common (but not necessarily majority) theme in people who dislike Drexlerian nanotech for whatever reason is that they discount the positives while crediting the negatives. This may or may not be a studied response - some people like the debate position this leaves them in, others are reacting on a gut level.

Additionally, people are used to extrapolating from what they know. If you have a dangerous chemical (according to some research, buckyballs fall into this category) then you restrict its usage. And buckyballs are "nanotech", according to what they hear. Therefore, nanotech is dangerous and should be restricted.

Finally, the history of 'goo' concepts is beginning to haunt nanotech. It was the most out-there science and the most interesting to the writers of articles for quite a long time - still today, in some areas - and this means it got discussed. Alot.

Modern designs for nanomechanical systems are quite a bit different, but they have to (somehow) beat off the preconceived 'blob' concepts that people have. IF this can be done, and IF it can be shown that such devices are safe in terms that people can appreciate, they MIGHT have a chance. If not, they'll have much less of a chance, IMO.


michael vassar

I think that if molecular manufacturing didn't bill itself as Drexlerian or "nanorobotic" it would do much better in the public opinion contest. Drop reference to Engines type ideas entirely and keep the focus on mechanochemistry, an (as far as I can tell) untainted term.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Hal, the idea that Drexler's ideas won't work is certainly the loudest view. But that doesn't make it correct, or even consensus.

Michael, if we focus only on mechanochemistry, I don't see how we can talk about performance and implications. Which we really need to do ASAP.


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