Molecular manufacturing: making machines out of molecules; machines that can be programmed to make larger, more complex machines that are in turn programmed to make still larger and more powerful machines; and so on, up to a desktop nanofactory...or a human being.
This simple description of molecular manufacturing is a compelling one, because it describes not only the projected approach for building nanofactories -- desktop appliances that will revolutionize commerce, industry, and society -- it also describes biological manufacturing: the way that proteins, cells, brains, and bodies are built.
No one has to 'prove' that molecular manufacturing can work; just look in the mirror. Nature has already figured out how to bring molecules together to make machines, and how to use those machines to build or support other machines resulting in a magnificently complex and powerful end product -- You.
Humans today are at the threshold of replicating nature's marvelous mastery. We may or may not use her exact methods -- after all, cars don't walk on legs and airplane wings don't flap -- but we are learning how to make machines out of molecules. Soon we will be able to program those machines to make larger, more complex machines. And shortly after that, some form of exponential general-purpose molecular manufacturing will result.
This development will change history, dramatically. Whether the net effect will be positive or negative is unknown. But progress toward developing the technical requirements for desktop nanofactories is moving forward quickly, much faster than we expected when CRN was founded. Efforts to anticipate and effectively prepare for the transformational impacts of this technology must not be allowed to fall behind.