Re: NANO: U.S. Federal Nanotechnology Research Initiative?

The Baileys (
Tue, 23 Mar 1999 05:11:47 -0500

Eliezer Yudkowsky wrote:

>I'm not sure whether this is better or worse than Zyvex going it alone.
>On one hand, the US will be a heck of a lot less naive when somebody
>finally wakes up and realizes they have the power to take over the
>world. On the other hand, Zyvex, faced with the actuality, might lose
>the blinders.

If a U.S. company makes the breakthrough discovery that sets a clear path (or even a potentially clear path) towards full-scale molecular nanotechnology, I expect the federal government to declare eminent domain over such intellectual property immediately. Nanotechnology in the hands of industry represents too much of a security risk (not that the U.S. government is necessarily effective at insulating its intellectual property from pilfering). The interesting case will be where another country (or business within such country) makes the breakthrough progress. To hedge against such a circumstance, I suspect that the chief research nations (U.S., the EU (in aggregate), Japan, etc.) will form a joint Nano Project in the next 10 years similar to the Human Genome Project once the prospect of full-scale molecular nanotechnology is no longer a novelty in an MIT Technology Review article but instead simply a matter of time and dedicated research effort. There will be elaborate technology sharing protocols set up and so forth. The last thing the current global economic regime wants is for China or some other nondemocratic government to be able to bring exclusive rights to MNT to a bargaining table. MNT is the "oil" of the 21st century and beyond except that who has it isn't based on geographical luck but R&D budgets.

Doug Bailey