MEDIA: Nanotechnology predictions in Byte magazine

Gregory Sullivan (
Fri, 29 Nov 96 17:27:48 EST

The December issue of Byte magazine has an article entitled "Eight Ways to
the Future: The Future of Microcomputing" in which a panel of eight
luminaries provide thoughts and predictions. Byte presents this information
as snippets in a tabular format - a style which makes superficiality
difficult to avoid. Check out

Three discussants mention nanotechnology:

Marc Andreessen, Netscape Communications
David Chaum, DigiCash
Doug Engelbart, Bootstrap Institute


Question: How long will Moore's Law continue to be relevant?

Answer: Marc Andreessen: Through 2020, when we will see a discontinuous
improvement in performance rejoining a new Moore's Law curve based on a
transition toward molecular nanotechnology.

Question: When will quantum effects and other problems require radically new
chip technologies?

Answer: Marc Andreessen: Probably until about 2007. By that time, however,
dramatically new chip technologies based on quantum dots and tunneling will
have begun to arrive.

Answer: David Chaum: I'm not sure we will be forced to develop
nanotechnology, but I sure hope we do.

Answer: Doug Engelbart: We'll run out of gas in 10 years. Eventually we'll
be arranging individual molecules.

Question: Will we manufacture chips in zero-gravity environments in orbital
fabs anytime soon?

Answer: Marc Andreessen: Only as an unlikely and distant possibility.
Nanotechnology will have begun to bear fruit before zero-gravity chip
manufacturing makes sense.

The Engelbart comment above is ambiguous since one can manipulate individual
atoms without having a nanotechnological capability; however, in the
introductory article at
the following appears:

Adds Doug Engelbart, legendary inventor of computing technology and
founding director of the Bootstrap Institute: "If you look at the whole
array of digital technology, the microprocessor is just a part of that.
Nanotechnology will eventually take us way beyond [microprocessors]."

Gregory Sullivan