Re: NANO: Skeptical MIT Tech Review Interview

Peter C. McCluskey (
Tue, 17 Nov 1998 09:49:44 -0800 (Kathryn Aegis) writes:
>Why so quick to label any sort of critique of nanotech as uninformed

It sometimes looks like that is happening because typical criticisms from reputable scientists simply ignore elementary arguments that nanotech advocates have been making for years.
Read the article through Crit and see how easily Ralph Merkle answers it: Drexler keeps claiming he wants to hear informed criticisms of his claims. As far as I can tell, the only criticisms of his arguments about what technology is possible are ones that were refuted quite a while ago.

>We can't have it both ways--we set ourselves up as skeptics to provide
>critiques on religion and bogus science, but then turn and scream at
>anyone who dares to suggest that every nano pipe dream won't come

The accusation that nanotech dreamers reject all criticism without regard to merit seems inconsistent with the respect that such dreamers give to people who suggest nanotech is undesirable because of risks such as grey goo.

When dealing with the timing of nanotech rather than what is physically possible, I think nanotech advocates are more vulnerable to criticism. I think Drexler's claims about when the first assemblers will be available (10 to 25 years) are reasonable, but I haven't heard a serious published attempt to analyze how long it will take. Drexler simply says he can't imagine how 20 years from now there could be 20 years more work needed to produce an assembler. This doesn't convince people who suspect he's a theoretician who doesn't know much about the mundane details needed to translate theory into practice.

Peter McCluskey          | Critmail ( | Accept nothing less to archive your mailing list