Here is another example of something where we are closer than I thought.
Slashdot has this article "Genetic Algorithm Generated Lego Bridge":
There is a home page for the software (DEMO: Dynamical & Evolutionary
See: http://www.demo.cs.brandeis.edu/index.html and the page where you can watch the bridge being built: See: http://www.demo.cs.brandeis.edu/pr/buildable/anim1.html
[One of the best examples I've seen of a real use for Java
(instead of those that reprogram the back button on your browser!)] They also do Cranes, Tables and Trees.
They apparently used a 1000 Pentium-II Beowulf cluster from
Now, what makes this cool is that it means we pretty much have the software methods and processing resources *in hand* to evolve nanoscale parts. What we need are the part descriptions similar to what they used to describe the bridge, crane, tree, etc.
My optimism just went up another notch.