Major tech/now and tomorrow
Fri, 8 Jan 1999 23:29:47 EST

Billy Brown wrote,

>....I agree. However, you can generate a scenario where that would happen if

you mix the right assumptions together. What we need is:

  1. automated engineering is very easy
  2. nanotech design is manageable
  3. computers are very fast

>4) nanotech is very hard to actually implement for some reason

We have 1) and 3), at least to some degree now. At least progress has been dramatic in recent years, but of course will increase exponentially more in eht future. Design tools that allow design of chips with 0.18-0.25 micron features is massively complex, and by necessity highly automated. Massive computers are being used to make more powerful computers. This is happening now. I just bought a P II with 7.5 million transistors. The design complexity is massive, geometric data, logic, simulations, electromagnetic models.
2) we are short on this one and 4) may be actually true. So we are getting close to the described scenario.

>That creates a situation where you have designs for very advanced devices

>that no one can build.

At any stage of technololgy you can design beyony your production technology. Leonardo drew tanks. I am biased, I am a HW guy, design is SW, you have good ideas, you can make something. In fabrication, you are up against physics, entropy, mother nature, and her dog Murphy.

>The first group to get an assembler can use it to

>implement those designs, giving them a huge instant jump in power.

Ordinarily we would expect other groups to duplicate the feat and catch up,

but nanotech also lets you make faster computers. So, the leading power

whips up a huge mob of supercomputers and sets them to work designing even

>better hardware. Their computers will be on a faster improvement curve than

>anyone else's, so no one can catch up until they hit the limits of what is


This exact scenario took place in the world geopolitical/technological sphere 1940-1990. The US dominated technology, computers, and with government investment, technology was applied in the most advanced ways to military hardware.

>Now, I don't think that could actually happen, but that's because I think

>assumptions are contradictory. You can't get computers fast enough to

>design smart matter and utility fog unless you are already using less

advanced nanotech to build them. I also don't think you can design

computers more than a few generations in advance of the ones you already

>have, for essentially the same reason.

Yup, designing too far ahead is interesting but not useful. A balance of effort between design and fabrication is needed. -Jay