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« Old Threats vs. New Threats | Main | Contradictions in China »

October 10, 2005


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jim moore

"But progress toward developing the technical requirements for desktop nanofactories is moving forward quickly, much faster than we expected"

You guys have the most aggressive time line for nanofactories I have ever seen (2010-215) and you think we will get there before then?


I'd like to suggest the following: I'm happy to see Brin & Kurzweil on the TaskForce, but why not let anyone with something on their worry/wish-list make that contributrion?

In that case, I'd also like to go first: it is my personal opinion that MM will merge with biology / medicine. From a special edition from PopSci (I just browsed the article) I remember something like: if you can imagine it, there's something working on it. Is this true? It's also my opinion that any evil plastic surgeon could make a mermaid. I'm sure you're laughing now, but what if they were an everyday sight, rolling around in their wheelchairs? Some people would undoubtedly freak. I think that if there really is going to be a manufacturing revolution, then you need to do a lot more easing of all the worrying people do. Will I still have a job? Who's gonna pay the rent / insurance / etc.? A MM revolution will probably destroy mass society as we know it, which I personally would welcome, but a lot of folks won't (if only because it doesn't fit their interest). You need to do a lot more PR, Dutch-style "voorlichting" = spreading information.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Jim, enabling technologies have developed very fast. I'd say that the minimum time to develop a nanofactory from a standing start may not have shrunk much (I'm still thinking 5 years), but the cost and difficulty are decreasing very fast indeed. In that sense, progress is happening more quickly than I think I expected a few years ago. I'd say the main limitation at this point is software.

Rik, your concerns are noted, and have been discussed before. I've been asking for years, "Will we be retired or unemployed?" I think a bigger worry is whether we will have a massive unstable arms race, or a level of nano-chaos that makes it impossible for many institutions and individuals to survive. But after security concerns, massive economic upheaval is next on my list.


Tom Mazanec

You guys have the most aggressive time line for nanofactories I have ever seen (2010-215) and you think we will get there before then?

Posted by: jim moore | October 10, 2005 at 12:59 PM

If someone (hopefully the US) has started a "black" project to develop MM we may be in the situation of the Atom Bomb in 1944, for all we know.


I'm not so sure people are going to get displaced when the assembler breakthrough occurs.

If people are going to get displaced, then governments will get displaced, but governments won't sit there and let that happen; they won't just shut down the water-generators just because the rest of the worlds economy is collapsing otherwise, they don't get their food either. They won't just slaughter all the farm animals like they did during the depresion just because the rest of the worlds economy is going nano for once again the same reason as before.

This is of course assuming crn's plan for a world government doesn't materialize. They'll probably practice a local form of technological suppresion till things can get worked out.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

flashgordon, I've read that today only 1.5-3% of Americans are involved in growing food. And that's for the whole country. It's probably not as extreme in other nations, but still, it doesn't take much labor to grow enough food to feed a few rulers.

If people become (from the point of view of their government) unimportant, or even a liability, it would not hurt the few people in power to warehouse, oppress, or kill large numbers of their subjects. Stalin did it. Zimbabwe did it recently, with a slum-clearing campaign called "Sweep away the garbage" that displaced over 10% of their population.

I've recently developed a theory that the Enlightenment occurred because machines made people significantly more valuable (economically) than they had been. But automation is now making people less valuable again, even as machines continue to increase productivity.



i'm not interested in people getting wiped out(i'm sure you don't think this), but I'm not interested in taking responsibility, meaning owning them either.

The biggest problem of human agricultural/industrial(machine version of agriculturalism) has been people owning others. I'd like to say that this is another idea that comes to my mind when I'm away from the computer, but I forget when I finally sit down. And, this is why i put so much in my posts when I've posted here; i often find myself coming up with so much while showering, but when I sit down, I forget so much and only remember so much later on.

Getting back to the ownership issue. People will only be important when they own themselves; this is why what many people call anarchist don't want a world wide government. A worldwide government is not going to make these people important. So, maybe crn says therefore we need to huddle them up, but how is crn or anybody else going to make these people important? And who's to say crn is going to be in control of this whole process? All that right there is going to involve people's religion. You start cramming all these different people together and all they're going to do is non-stop planning to seize power to convert to their moral ideas; this is also why people don't want a worldwide government. They want their own way of life. The human historic pattern is the above.

I still propose an asimovian foundation to train people to be sane(I have a definition of that if your interested) and to be able to self-own themselves, meaning to have their own mnt; they will only allow their kids to own mnt when their kids are grown up enough to be able to use it(based partly on my definitions of a sane person). Those people around the world willing to come into the human future are welcome, those who do not are like those who stayed behind to be the ancestors of todays few hunter/gatherors and agriculturalists.


About the Roman empire getting taken over by a single religion and then the roman empire falling, I'll admit that cramming many different religions together will take them awhile to unite doctrine, but unless there is a plan to get people to make themselves important soon enough, the roman empire pattern indicates the possibility of a future mnt worldwide government becoming corrupt and stagnant. As the Roman empire went its course, there was less and less mathematicians, and then all through the middle ages, there was nothing but rewriting what couldn't be read anyways.

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