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« Fast Takeoff: Errors | Main | Fast Takeoff: Design Spaces »

March 31, 2009


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Tom Craver

Chris -

What would you consider "fast" for take-off?

I would agree that once we get to the point of self-copying molecular manufacturing technology, the global roll-out could be quite rapid, if not restricted.

But I suspect there'll be a rather long interval - probably several years at least -in which it'll be widely recognized that we have the ability to make a wide range of atomically precise "nano-machine parts", but have not yet been able to produce a reasonably efficient self-copying system.

That would be a critical period.

E.g. nanotech arms races might be triggered, in which all work on molecular manufacturing is "classified", as multiple nations compete to be first.

Traditional manufacturers would be aware and afraid of the impact - perhaps lobbying government to place licensing and other restrictions that will allow them to retain advantages.

Social movements might spring up in anticipation - post-capitalists, neo-socialists, darwinian survivalists, etc.

Chris Phoenix

Anything less than 5 years would be fast. I think it could actually be less than 2.

As to "widely recognized" - Aono was pick-and-placing silicon atoms in 1994. We've had Schafmeister polymers and Rothemund staples and Seeman's DNA-building-DNA machines for years now.

We may already be in the critical period of classified arms races. But it's certainly not widely recognized that MM is near. Even Drexler is saying it's too early for diamondoid work. (Not that MM is the same as diamondoid, but I'd expect MM to bootstrap to diamondoid pretty quickly.)


Tom Craver

Sure, we've had limited atom moving and bonding ability for some time - but nothing that seemed to enable building a wide variety of component parts that could be assembled into a larger device. That, I think, is going to be the trigger on the starting gun.

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