Browsing through the tech news today, I see that there's now a digital camera that plays music and videos, and a cell phone with a 3.2 megapixel camera built in. A few days ago I saw a 2 GB flash drive for $100; just a few months ago, that would only buy you 1 GB.
It was only a matter of time--and not much time at that. Moore's Law says, roughly speaking, that the amount of electronic power you can fit into a product doubles every year or two. If you can build a handheld cell phone, and a handheld media player, and a handheld camera, then just a few years later, you'll be able to squeeze all that functionality into a single handheld device.
Looking ahead even five years, it's hard to predict exactly what cutting-edge personal electronics will be like. There will certainly be enough computer power to integrate all your handheld gizmos into one device. But what will the interface be? Voice recognition? Distributed wearable I/O devices like Bluetooth headsets? Will we have head-mounted video, or will we still be squinting at tiny screens? We can project what the technical capabilities will be, but it's a lot harder to predict what it will look like to the user. It really depends on what the users will want. But we can predict with confidence that future personal electronics will integrate telephone capabilities ever more tightly into our lives--that's what users want, and that's what they'll get, one way or another.
So if we can't predict personal electronics five years out, how can we predict the effects of general-purpose manufacturing fifteen years out? The answer is that we really can't, at least not in detail. But we can predict that molecular manufacturing will make it easier to do the things we're already doing.
That's kind of a depressing thought, because a lot of the things we're doing today are pretty grim. So we'd better also be asking: What new things will molecular manufacturing enable?