Dan Clemmensen (
Thu, 31 Jul 1997 22:25:00 -0400

Eric Watt Forste wrote:
> Hagbard Celine asks:
> > Can any of the techno-savvy list members explain how a powerful enough
> > computer can be installed in such a (presumably flying) mini-robot?
> Molecular rod-logic, roughly similar to the mechanical calculators and
> computers of the sort designed by Babbage and widely used before the
> invention of the transistor. Only these would be implemented with nanoscale
> components.
True, but I think the original question is: what is the
smallest computer that is still capable of flight control
in addition to other useful behaviour?

We can easily find a worked example: the apty-named
"no-see-um" is a tiny flying insect. It's "computer"
is capable of flight control and additional complex
decision-making, sufficient for mating, and food
acquisition. I believe that nanotech will be able to
beat the efficieny of neuron-based decision systems.

Now, I don't know how far we can extend this reasoning.
Just how "smart" can an intracellular probe be? Well, a
probe the size of a bacterium should be at least as "smart"
as a bacterium, but is that smart enough to do cellular repair
an avoid damaging the cell?