Nano: program those little guys!

Damien Broderick (
Fri, 27 Sep 1996 20:12:54 +1000

Hi folks

...hitting both lists here, hope that's not impolite... (adrift in the
datasea...) (aargh)

The debate between Lyle and other more optimistic nanoists seems to me to
depend on the question of `tacit knowledge', evolutionarily-acquired tricks
for dealing with the world - life regarded as GAs at the end of a three
billion year planet-sized run. How are these little buggers supposed to be
programmed to do their job of building a starship in the back-yard pool?
It's no good pointing to mitochondria and ribosomes and crying `existence
proof!', unless you can specify or emulate all the subtle algorithms they
encode. And even assuming a Very Big Smart AI Thing which isn't yet
autonomous to number-crunch the specs for yr starship, how is this template
vectored out to the trillions of nano fabricators doing the back-stroke in
the milky pool of goop? Radio? Infra-red? Batons (or quipu, as the Incas
would have done) handed physically back and forth? Is there a precise
cascade of fabricators, and chemo-gradients, and all that standard
make-a-meat-body stuff? (Not in a goop pool, I'd have thought.)

Probably all this is explained in NANOSYSTEMS, but shamefully my university
library doesn't have a copy... nor does my local academic book store, yet.

Best, Damien