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« The Great Irreverator | Main | Should we guide them gently? »

April 24, 2006


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Joe Bain

I would tell them that MM has the possiblity of solving many critical problems we are dealing with today. From homeland security, to social security. Then I would tell them that a Manhatten style project is the best way to get there.

Of course I would have a more detailed argument. But it does not matter because I will never get their ear and they would not belive me if I did.

Nato Welch

This is a strange question, because if I could somehow get that kind of attention, that would be a //far// more powerful and extraordinary ability than even anything nanotechnology has to offer, IMHO. So powerful, that vast sums of money are already being spent on getting the attention of policy makers. So powerful, in fact, that I probably wouldn't even touch nanotech - although I'd certainly have an eye toward attempting to prepare them for it.

This is all off topic, of course. Frankly, I despair of telling policy makers anything that would help any of us.

Stakeholders, however, are a different story. With molecualr manufacturing, that means pretty much everybody, doesn't it? I know a few things I'd say the the world, if I could, but more of them have to do with preparing the world for mm in an indirect way than anything directly concerning nanotech or mm.

How about this for starters: STOP WATCHING TELEVISION if you want to reclaim your democracy.

Still off topic, I guess. I'll give it a rest, I suppose.

Michael Deering

MM can solve all your problems or make them worse. You choose.

Take rising health care costs for example. We spend a lot of money on drug development, expensive surgeries, expensive cancer treatments, expensive drugs, expensive expert personal care, and expensive hospital facilities. MM can be used to make tools that make highly engineered molecular drugs and active systems to cure disease. MM can make nanobots to replace surgeries. MM can make targeted engineered molecules to cure cancer. MM can super powerful computers to used in intelligent systems and robotics to assist health care professionals. MM can replicate complex hospital facilities at little or no labor and materials cost.

All of these uses will reduce health care costs, but only if the IP cost of using MM is low. If IP costs are high or if the technology is severely restricted then MM will make health care costs rise by providing more expensive solutions to the problems we already have.

Unrestricted personal nanofactories are the answer to reducing costs. Restricted big business MM facilities are the route to rising costs, massive unemployment, and social disruption.


If we have the collective ear of all policymakers if we would clarify, policymakers within the United States of America. We should inform them that nanotechnology in the form of molecular manufacturing can be achieved in the near future. Much of the testing necessary for the devices production have already been stated and demonstrated in laps around the world, of course additional theoretical study as well as practical testing and computer simulation need to be done. The outline for the device is available and well thought out.

The project perhaps breaks down into some four smaller projects although each one substantial. One project following the current state of diamond chemistry. A second exploring DNA manipulation molecules in a wet environment. A third exploring alternatives to diamond including but not limited to aluminum and any form of polymer available. In support of these three projects an additional software project should be started immediately with the goal of this project to convert existing AutoCAD format files to usable three-dimensional inputs for useful devices produced by the molecular assembler.

In addition we should clarify our position that molecular manufacturing in its mature form does represent “Freedom”. And the eventual goal of this technology as well as robotics and artificial intelligence is to grant all mankind “Freedom”. In short freedom equals the ideal that all men, all men are created equal. That all men should and will possess all things they desire they should and will have access to everything they can think of an everything any other men can think of, …. this is freedom.

Mike Treder, CRN

Mike Deering said: MM can solve all your problems or make them worse. You choose.

When I speak to audiences--of stakeholders and, occasionally, policy makers--I always emphasize that the essential dilemma is and, not or. MM will make some problems go away and it will make others much worse.

The really tough choices will not involve whether we want the good stuff and not the bad stuff; that's too easy. The crucial challenge is how we can survive and thrive with both.

Nick Robilliard

Assuming we are referring to policy makers in the US and/or EU (ie western, limited imagination, little desire to disturb the status quo) I would tell them -
Firstly - this is a logical progresion of the current well known and tested synthetic chemistry, medical research and manufacturing technologies with great long term potential to supersede current techniques and significantly reduce costs. (ie dont be scared Kids we know what we are doing, its all good)
Secondly - We are close but need a structure, large scale effort as the country who brings this capacity to market first will potentially undercut any other countries industrial capacity simularly to the development of atomic weapons undermining the capacity of other countries capacity to wage war, until someone else had the same capacity. (ie. first in gets the prize and "We" need to get there first so a Appolo/Manhatten Project approch will do that).
Thirdly - There are likly to be some labor force and educational changes which need further research (ie OMG its full of Stars!!).

Lastly Policy makers role is to maintain the status quo and they WILL NOT BELIEVE predictions of massive rapid change, it is pointles to explaining the potential to this audiance, better to "guide" them gently with language of "Risk Management" and "Best Outcomes" for the US/EU wherever while working in the background.

Tom Craver

This may seem a bit off topic, but lately I've been noticing something:

The only institutions that persist for long periods of time, are those that can never solve the problems that caused their creation.

Further, any institutions that are successful in solving the problem that caused their creation, either go away, or move on to other problems that they do not or cannot solve. The Manhattan project is an example of the former. NASA is an example of the latter.

The upshot is a slow but steady accumulation of incompetent institutions - incompetent in the sense that they are structured to never solve their central issue. The war on drugs, war on cancer, many forms and programs around poverty, various environmental agencies and programs, older and broader institutions - government itself, the legal system, the department of defense, economies, etc.

And then the existence of these institutions impedes any effort to really solve the underlying problems - because it is assumed that these institutions are already "addressing" the issues, and to initiate yet another effort would be wasteful. The NNI - inspired by the vision of nanotechnology, but quickly converted into a way to fund a vast array of "nano-science" - is a good illustration of this.

And so over time, the whole system gets ever more clogged up and progress against real problems ever more difficult.

I guess I'm saying that if I had the ear of policy makers, I'd tell them to shut down every major government program or agency they can, and set up new ones with clear goals and deadlines that actually address the underlying problems. If they fail, shut them down and try something else, or try again after a few years with a new set of people.

For MM, shut down the amorphous NNI, and set a 3 year goal - not producing a nanofactory, but a reasonable and useful intermediate goal that - if successful - would settle key questions of fundamental feasibility. And make it clear - after 3 years, the program WILL be shut down. If successful, there will immediately be a follow-on program, created from scratch with a new goal and deadline. If not successful, or only partially successful, there may be a delay of some years before another attempt is made.

Phillip Huggan

Government funded basic diamond surface chemistry research. Prizes to any lab worldwide that can demostrate some diamond abstraction precursor techniques.

I think nested carbon nanotubes may be important, so same as above for nested CNT fabrication demos. Also same for SPM tool tips exhibiting new versatility.

Mike Treder, CRN

For MM, shut down the amorphous NNI, and set a 3 year goal - not producing a nanofactory, but a reasonable and useful intermediate goal that - if successful - would settle key questions of fundamental feasibility.

Tom, are you proposing a program funded and controlled by the US government? What about an international program? Or a non-governmental program, such as the Roadmap project?


We should also, both in think-tanks and organizations such as CRN, as well as in more mainstream think-tanks and economics depts., as well as policy-wonk outfits, discuss/research the ideas both of Louis O. Kelso, and the neo-Kelsonian ideas & proposals of James Albus. This institutional change proposals are not expecially radical, and fall broadly within the ambit of classical liberalism & free markets, but provide additional avenues for capital (i.e., robots & nanosystems) acquisition/ownership by a broad base of persons in the society that cannot utilize the currently-standard (and embedded) collateralization method of capital acquisition finance. Ideally, every person within a political jurisdiction (and, ultimately, throughout the world) should be able to acquire ownership of sufficient robotic and nanotech capital instrumentalities so as to live an autonomoust, affluent lifestyle. See Kelso & Adler, *The Capitalist Manifesto*, and James Albus at www.jamesalbus.org. It's also important to integrate this with Hayekian themes as well. See F.A. Hayek, *Law, Legislation & Liberty* (3 vols., U. of Chicago Pr.)
Great blog, Mike; I'm very honored to contribute here...

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