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« Molecular Motors | Main | The Next 25 Years »

January 02, 2007


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Tom Mazanec

I voted for 2019.


Convincing people that we should prepare for such technology is going to be quite difficult. Especially considering the fact that for some strange reason, even mentioning such technology appearing before 2050 invokes outright hostility and anger - I'm not really sure why. Has anyone else noticed this?


Okay so they're saying we have until 2075 following the linear view of technological advance. A little quick math shows us 68 years from around today. Following Kurzweil's acceleration theory how many actual years is this.


I have been away for some time I apologize have been attempting to follow along with the arguments in my absence of writing. I'm curious as to a couple of things I've recently read pertaining to the molecular manufacturing device. One is the idea that initial products in the initial molecular manufacturing device will have the consistency of balsa wood. This would seem to be a representative analogy of a lightweight material with little strength. Although even this would likely have many many useful product designs with in its capabilities. The other arguments I read that I found concerning was that the initial device would require an additional element a doping element for what I assume was electrical conductivity within the useful product. Either of these two designs falls short of our eventual goal of a universal assembler but perhaps they are steppingstones in that direction. I will continue reading and following along with the arguments in the future I look forward to hearing everyone's opinion.

Michael Martine

I too have noticed people get hostile about it. They simply refuse to believe it. The intuitive linear view is a very real problem to overcome.


This is probably completely off-topic, but when I saw this I had to post it here. This is a video of a completely automated factory made of legos that builds cars; it just screams "nanofactory!" There are parts that reminded me greatly of the nanofactory animation. Enjoy!

To bring this on-topic, if this kind of ingenuity exists in the world, I don't think we'll have to wait till 2075.

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Todd, I think balsa wood applies to utility fog. That's one product--useful, programmable, limited in some ways. Other products could be far stronger.

Doping is one of a broader family of questions: What elements other than carbon and hydrogen will be needed to build a molecular manufacturing technology? Sub-questions: how will they be prepared and supplied; what mechanochemical reactions will they require; will their scarcity limit the amount of stuff that can be built?

Freitas thinks that a complete exponential-manufacturing technology can be built with *only* carbon and hydrogen, plus 30 atoms of Ge or Si for tool tips.

Most designs for molecular machines do use other elements.

Even if other elements are required for active nanosystems, most of any macro-scale product will be passive/structure (because of the high power density and functional density of MM-built machinery). The passive/structure part should be buildable with just CH.


Chris Phoenix, CRN

Michael, perhaps the hostility comes from fear. Eliezer Yudkowsky has a concept of "Shock Level" that basically tells what level of future thinking people are ready to accept. Hit them with something too far above their current level, and they'll get scared.


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