It's a shame that Jonathan Huebner isn't more famous. If he were, we could place him alongside Thomas J. Watson, the head of IBM who famously predicted a world market of maybe five computers, and eminent scientist Lord Kelvin, who stated that heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.
Huebner, a physicist, thinks he's spotted a slowdown in innovation. That is somewhat interesting, and John Smart at Accelerating Times wrote quite a detailed review of the idea. Smart suggests that perhaps technical innovation is not declining -- he identifies some methodological problems. Or perhaps it is declining because technology is capable of supplying the basic human needs, and we've become too comfortable to be motivated to invent at the same breakneck pace. Or, perhaps innovation is moving away from "hard" technologies into more psychological and sociological realms. I'd suggest that in the past few decades, massive innovation has occurred in computer software, but most of it is "under the hood" and we only see the user interface.
But what I find ridiculous is Huebner's theory, as quoted in a New Scientist article about his work: "Perhaps there is a limit to what technology can achieve."
A few years ago, I attended a talk by a physicist who spoke about the physical limits of computation. He derived some astronomically vast number of operations per cubic centimeter per second. Then someone in the audience announced that Moore's Law predicted that we'd achieve that in five hundred years. Perhaps that represents a real limit to what technology can achieve. But with the computer invented a mere half-century ago, we're only one-tenth of the way there.
Molecular manufacturing relies on existing technological theories, and doesn't even begin to strain today's fundamental scientific theories. But even such a mundane technology will be able to build computers at least a billion times as efficient and powerful as today's. (Actually, even nanoscale technologies will probably be able to do that, eventually.) Molecular manufacturing will be able to build motors at least a million times as powerful, and materials a hundred times as strong, and integrate these powers into complete products at all scales. And it will enable automated general-purpose manufacturing, a technology that does not exist in the world today, and that will do for manufacturing what computers have done for information processing. (What, you mean information processing isn't synonymous with computers? Think about it... there used to be other ways to process information, but now computers are used almost universally.)
All I can say is that anyone who thinks technology is nearing its limits must not have thought through the possibilities. It's an attractive idea, if you're afraid of change -- as many people are. But it just doesn't fit the facts.