Re: The Singularity and Nanotechnology

Dr. Rich Artym (
Sun, 29 Sep 1996 09:14:45 +0100

In message <>, Peter C. McCluskey writes:

> (Dan Clemmensen) writes:
> >Why not? What will limit the speed of adoption of MNT? what will limit
> >the rate of advance of MNT technology, given the obvious (to me, anyway)
> >feedback mechanisms by which MNT will beget better MNT?
> >
> >The only limiting mechanism that I've been able to come up with is
> >the economic disruption itself.
> I can't see any signs of a sudden change in feedback mechanisms.
> It's silly to expect the first assemblers to be easily programmed general
> purpose devices, for the same reason that it would have been silly to
> expect the first computer to run Smalltalk. There will be a number of
> constraints imposed on designs by the limits on what is chemically
> stable, and it will take a lot of trial and error before we know how
> to handle those limits well.

Peter, you're missing Dan's argument entirely! The ability of MNT to
beget MNT is a completely cataclysmic change in feedback mechanisms:
as you say, many a constructed molecule will not be stable, but MNT
provides a near-instantaneous means of finding out, empirically. The
early systems will be iterating through zillions of possible molecular
arrangements in search of stable configurations. Furthermore, far from
not being programmable, the first generation of assemblers is expected
to feature totally dumb, non-programmable actuators that are totally
controlled by external computers and hence have all the programmability
of those. In practice then, they'll be massively programmable right
from the start, and the only substantial limitation this will impose
is that control lines will have to be extended back to the point of
control as systems are constructed --- not a big problem for stage 1.

In any event, the programmability "problem" is a non-problem; work
is well in hand on rod logic, and we're dab hands at creating CPUs.

So, both of your reasons why the development of MNT will be delayed
are, I think, in error. I agree with Dan's reasoning.


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