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« Back from Oxford | Main | Surveillance Goes Small »

July 25, 2008


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One data point is the time frame for winning the Foresight Institute's Feynman Grand Prize, http://www.foresight.org/GrandPrize.1.html :

"To win the Feynman Grand Prize, entrants must design and construct a functional nanometer-scale robotic arm with specified performance characteristics, and also must design and construct a functional nanometer-scale computing device capable of adding two 8-bit binary numbers."

It's quite an ambitious goal and arguably would require something close to molecular assemblers, or to use today's preferred language, nanofactories.

I created a betting claim on the on-line Foresight Exchange game back in 1996 that lets players bet on the date on which the prize will be awarded. Betting markets have been found to be remarkably accurate in terms of providing unbiased predictions of future events. FX is a play-money betting game but it has been around for a long time and research has shown that predictions from such games are about as good as predictions from real-money betting.


Current betting prices imply an expectation that the prize will be awarded in the 2022-2023 time frame, consistent with Mike's original 20-year forecast.


"No single organization or mindset can create a full and appropriate policy."

This is the reason why the whole institutional mindset should be rejected. Large scale human institutions are bureaucracies. It is a law of nature that bureaucracy is inherently dysfunctional. Thus, the idea that nanotech should be "managed" by a single institution or combination of institutions is inappropriate. Indeed, nanotech is simply the extension of the information revolution to material objects. Thus, the whole concept of centralization is obsolete.

The best approach is to forget about hierarchy and think about decentralized networking instead. If one really does believe in the possibility of this kind of nanotechnology, one should promote open-source development based on decentralized networks instead.

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