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« Unease Toward Big Powers | Main | Talking Nano in Santa Barbara »

July 06, 2007


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jim moore

I disagree, from a theoretical perspective, social systems are fundamentally limited by the communication and transportation systems in that society. As we all know our communication systems /information systems are gaining capability at an increasing rate. By 2020 billions of people will be spending their lives immeshed in a wireless, ubiquitous, computer mediated communication systems that will give us the potential to radically restructure society.

(the communications revolution has not yet come close to fulfilling its potential to enable social change, it looks to me that the twenty teens are going to be wild)

Tim Lundeen

I agree with you -- I like/respect Freeman Dyson, but I thought his essay was written by somone with blinkers on (I like "in the cone").

The main issue I have with the science fiction is that it either ignores or just gives passing mention to the idea that everyone will be smarter -- a lot smarter -- than we are today. How that will influence things is hard to call, but it makes all the futures hopelessly wrong. I like Charles Stross, and Accelerando was one of the best future prediction stories, but it still suffered from this oversight.

dan goldberger

There's an excellent book by the name of "Myths of Innovation" It's an excellent read, and short, for those people who don't have much time. Scott Burken, the author, explains, how innovations occur realistically. It would help put in perspective the future of nanotechnology.


There may be a cone affect here, but it wasn't really Dyson's point that there wouldn't be other important and impactful technologies released. He was simply focused on biotech and demonstrating some of the same wonder and worry that your website shows toward molecular nanofactories. It's the Spiderman principle, "With great power comes great responsibility." :) (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

The common theme between both is the decentralization of capability or power. With it comes decreased controls and increased risks and potentials.

Biotech could be the bootstrap to a real molecular nanofactory or the nanofactory may be a critical tool in accelerating biotech. (The same relationship probably applies for AI too.)

Yes, it would have been a more comprehensive article if Dyson had included ALL potential technology advances, but that would make for a cumbersome article and likely have heavily diluted the central message of thoughtfulness and deliberation toward technology advances and implementation.

Sometimes the KISS principle is more effective than the complete answer or the perfect answer. (More often than not for effective communication. Little chunks of messaging, repeat as necessary.)


I'd like to propose a slightly different perspective. I think the strongest impacts are those that have positive feedback with a high feedback coefficient.

I think by far the strongest impact of Nano will be as applied to computation. Increases in computation capacity will feed back into improved molecular simulations and nanoscale control. Another major feed back area for computation is amplified intelligence.

I believe these feedback paths will have the most impact, and other impacts will be akin to eddies spinning off from the main current.


Nice visual

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