Andrew Grove and nanotechnology

Lyle Burkhead (
Thu, 26 Sep 1996 15:30:03 -0500 (EST)

Alexander Chislenko:

> One thing that upset/surprised me today listening to Grove's talk
> on NPR, is his answer to the question on perspectives of
> nanotechnology, and whether he thinks it may be used for
> manufacturing computer chips.
> He answered:
> "To tell the truth, I even do not know why we are not using
> this technique".
> I would think a man in his position would have a better knowledge of
> perspective technologies.
> So what do you think: is he so far away from nanotech that he
> hasn't heard about it, or so close that he plays dumb?

You mean prospects for nanotechnology, not perspectives; also
prospective technologies, not perspective.

I think you are reading too much into what he said. He didn't say
he had never heard of nanotechnology. He just said he didn't know
why it isn't already being used to make chips.

If I were a competitor of his, I would take this to mean that
1. he has known about the idea of nanotechnology for a long time,
2. he thinks it is basically a valid idea,
3. he has some of his people working on it,
4. they have run into obstacles
a. corporate inertia
b. a steep learning curve,
5. he expects to be using this technique to make chips, eventually,
6. he is surprised that it is taking so long.

Incidentally, my anti-nanotech comments only apply to fantasies about
replacing the entire economy with do-it-yourself genie machines.
I don't doubt for a minute that it will eventually be possible to "grow"
computer chips, smart materials, fuel cells, and batteries. This will be
an important part (yes *part* ) of the economy in a few decades.