Re: Saul Kent's powerful new cryonics organization

Date: Thu Feb 14 2002 - 12:18:18 MST

Robert Bradbury writes:
> Src:
> > Josh Wolfe, co-founder and managing partner of Lux Capital ...
> >
> > On the more far-out side, one business proposal Wolfe recently saw
> > involved cryogenically freezing the deceased and bringing them back with
> > nanobots in the future.
> >
> > As far as Wolfe is concerned, any technology based on the "Drexlerian
> > vision of nanotech"--that is, the self-replicating assembler--should be
> > put in its place.
> We are not "over the hump" yet by any stretch of the imagination.

I have felt for some time that cryonics was a lead weight dragging down
acceptance of Drexlerian nanotech. My theory is that people have an
overwhelmingly negative emotional reaction to cryonics, in part because
it implies that the death of their loved ones was preventable, and this
carries over to any technology which would seem to make cryonics credible.

A couple of years ago, Foresight essentially declared victory in the
war for acceptance of nanotechnology. There were conferences held every
year, one or more respected journals, government funding was ramping up,
articles in business journals. By all accounts it was now an accepted
future technology.

But maybe that was premature. We are seeing a backlash, a rearguard
fighting action against the original vision of nanotech. Opponents are
trying to build a firewall against Drexlerian mechanosynthesis, drawing a
distinction between their prosaic nanotech and Drexler's far-out visions.
They prefer to focus on biotech, on nanoparticles, on MEMS, on bulk
materials engineering at the nanoscale. All these things can be done
today, in fact they are the natural consequence of existing technologies
just extending their capabilities a bit. They want to get funding for
their current research. In this environment there is no reason to even
think about blue sky dreams like eternal perfect health, or nightmares
like engineered malignant replicators.

I think Foresight needs to go back to its roots and shore up the
foundations. It's not enough to have "nanotechnology" initiatives showing
up everywhere. Few of those efforts are making significant progress
towards Drexler's machine-based models. Foresight needs to remind
people that there is more to nanotech than making ultra-fine powders
for smoother paint. We have to keep our eye on the prize, a technology
which can utterly revolutionize every aspect of the world. If research
is not moving us towards that goal, it should not receive funding under
nanotech grants, even if it happens to involve little tiny pieces.


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