Nanotech Scenarios

Chandra Patel (
Sun, 30 May 1999 17:12:58 GMT

Hello all. My studies are going well in part thanks to many on the list who saw fit to download some of their knowledge to me. Thanks again.

I've been spending a lot of brain cycles lately considering how advent of molecular nanotechnology might play out on the world scene. Sifting through the list archives and the Internet has been helpful but not completely gratifying. I'm familiar with many of the books that portray nanotech such as Bear's Queen of Angels and Slant.

How will the announcement of the development of a fully functional molecular assembler affect the world? What about the impact over time? For example, if MNT represents the year an assembler is developed what will the world be like at MNT+1, MNT+10, MNT+100? I know this is all speculative but it seems to me that we should be able to make some intelligent speculations about such a future.

Here's a bunch of questions I'm currently wrestling with:

Will the widespread hype begin before or after the development of an Assembler? Will the public be informed about the capabilities of an Assembler prior to its development or only afterwards?

Who has the best chance of developing the first Assembler? the U.S. government? another government? coalitions? corporations? conglomerates? the nanotech Galileo tinkering in vis lab?

How will the nature of the first developer affect how events progress in the MNT+x era? Will it matter who the first developer is because governments will seize the technology?

Will the financial markets act similar to Hanson's idea futures market and begin factoring in the eminent development of the Assembler into its valuations? This assumes that the finance types identify what affects such an event would have on valuations.

What will the economic impact be? Will pre-MNT capital lose all its value? What will be the commodity of the post-MNT era? The most obvious answer is 'the ability to make Assemblers'. But what about creativity, Assembler software, Assembler software debugging software, easily mutable materials, heat dissipation technology, etc.?

Should Assembler software be open source? Does it matter if Assembler software is efficient? What weight should be given to the 'crazy screw with a problem' factor where the screw decides to implement some "goo" scenario?

What would be the motivation of a 'crazy screw' since many ailments that drive 'fanatics' will be remedied or have the potential to be remedied with MNT?

What is the future of governments in the MNT+x era?

What platform is MNT/OS likely to be based upon?

Chandra Patel

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