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« India Worries About Goo | Main | Knowledge Universe »

December 14, 2007

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Mediaman

Will Bio-terrorists have an easier time with their endeavors with this technology?
You bet.
It's one thing to nanofab a toothbrush, say, completely another to nanofab custom designed nanobiobots that eat flesh, or devour nerve cells.
Nanotech may be the Pandora's box of the millennium, the civilization "deal buster."
And what about evolution and mutation? On the nano scale, particularly nanobio, unwanted mutations WILL occur.
We better be ready to deal with the results.

Tom Craver

These scenarios are useful in that they project various pathways to get to productive nanotechnology.

We need to take the next step - project the resulting transition effects - a period of maybe 5 years - with an indication of likely resulting post-development worlds. Yes, one post-world might be "singularity - incomprehensible". But part of this exercise is attempting to make the future comprehensible.

Based on that, we can start to project what sort of futures we do and don't want, and what policies might need to be in place before the transition and put in place quickly during the transition.

Tom Craver

In the "positive expectations" scenario, fabbers will lag behind the best manufacturing capabilities. Big corporations would maintain a manufacturing advantage through the nanofactory transition period. This would result in a fairly smooth continuation of "consumerist society" in developed nations.

We might anticipate that manufacturing would shift to be more localized and concentrated, as competition grows fiercer and margins thinner. As a result, membership stores might be taken to an even greater extreme - membership malls that offer nearly everything one might need, at steep discounts - in return for monthly membership fees that discourage people from shopping at other corporations' malls.

So the transition period would just be "more of the same" for most people in developed nations. They would hear of big changes inside the corporate world, and work and shopping patterns might change - but those sorts of changes we're already well used to.

In poor nations, the impact of fabbers will be muted and delayed by the cost of feedstock materials. Inexpensive local production of feedstock for atomically precise nanofactories will make a big difference.

At that point, pirated and knock-off designs will allow the people of those nations to greatly improve their material well-being. Of course, many will probably find reasons to keep fighting each other, and use nanofactories to continue making their lives hellish.

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