Re: Goals

David Lubkin (
Mon, 17 May 1999 16:37:53 -0400

Dear Jon,

I'm glad you're excited about the prospects of the future. We all are. But you're preaching to the choir. I hope that no more than 1% of the list doesn't already know this stuff.

There are some important gotchas in what you've written, however. Which, again, were discussed to death on the list eight years ago.

(1) Middle-of-the-road nanotechnology is not alchemy.

>Just give this machine any type of matter, such as water, and it
>can rearrange the atoms to make anything else, such as an apple, or gold.

Unless you're relying on the trivial traces of carbon, gold, etc. that may be present in tap water, you will not get apples or gold from rearranging atoms. There are far-out speculations about sub-nano technology that works on quarks, but it's still bad science fiction for now.

(2) You have many generalizations about the social consequences of nanotech that much of the group would disagree with.

>People will never have to shop again.
>People will not have to work
>Material poverty will be eliminated.
>Money, a medium of exchange for material goods and services, will become obsolete,
>Taxes are no longer necessary.
>all mental illness will be cured.

Pointing out just a few of the fallacies:

  1. There is no limit to how much material wealth someone might want. Only a few of us can have brains the size of Jupiter in this solar system.
  2. Unless sub-nano tech comes along and is cheap, rare elements are still valuable.
  3. Information is always of value.
  4. Location is still unique (although arguably less important).
  5. Personal service is still relevant.
  6. Nanotech and associated developments are not a guarantee against busy-bodies who want to control others "for their own good" and other human behavioral pathologies.