Get ready for big things from world of nanotech

July 20 2008 / by futuretalk / In association with Future Blogger.net
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 9 Hot

By Dick Pelletier

Arthur C. Clarke once said: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is virtually indistinguishable from magic.” Enter mankind’s newest plunge into the future – nanotechnology.

One day soon, a small Star Trek-like replicator called a “nanofactory” will sit on your kitchen counter and let you order up any product you want – plasma TV, clothes, an appliance, or whatever your dreams desire – at little or no cost.

This wild technology sounds like science fiction, but its not. According to AI entrepreneur Ray Kurzweil and nanotech author Eric Drexler, this nanofactory will arrive by the 3rd decade of this century – 2020-2030.

Here’s how nanotech replicators would work: microscopic-size machines collect raw atoms from supplied chemicals, or from something as inexpensive as seawater, and enable those atoms to grow or “morph” into the final product: a sweater, refrigerator, health medicine, or even a duplicate nanofactory.

Key technologies of the past half-century – transistors, semiconductors, and genetic engineering – all focused on reducing size, materials and costs, while increasing power and efficiency. We now stand poised to continue this trend into a revolution that offers the potential to rebuild the entire physical world – our bodies and brains included – one atom at a time.

The National Institutes of Health states that someday implanted nanotech materials will actually become part of the body – able to search out and destroy cancer cells before they develop into a tumor, or precisely direct drugs to heal damaged tissues – and when no longer needed, dissolve and be absorbed or excreted. (cont.)

Never in history has a new technology been so well funded. Last year Congress approved $4 billion for nanotech development in hopes the U.S. will maintain its position as world leader, and not be overtaken by other countries as happened with the VCR, TV, automobile, and so many other “American” ideas.

The driving force behind this revolution is money. The current global market for nano-scale technologies, according to www.etcgroup.org, is estimated at $45 billion, with products in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, information and energy storage, and materials. Nanofabricated circuitry is predicted to capture the silicon-based semiconductor market within the decade, and by 2015, the world market for nanotech products could exceed $1 trillion.

Eau Claire, Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley Technical College plans a 2-year associate degree course in nanotechnology beginning in September. Many colleges and universities now list nanotech-related courses.

As nanotech becomes more prevalent, its impact will be felt in negative areas too. Labor-free products from replicators could devastate many industries. Governments are now scrambling for ways to control the economic impact of this amazing new technology.

Clearly, the road to nanotech winds around unknown, possibly even dangerous turns. But strong commerce and government support is driving this future forward – and it will unfold in our lifetime. This magical revolution promises to create a cleaner environment, abundant affluence, and perfect health for us all. See video of nanofactory in operation here .

When do you think nanofactories will become available?

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Comment Thread (7 Responses)

  1. For the last time…

    Rupturing The Nanotech Rapture

    Posted by: adbatstone80   July 21, 2008
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  2. Conservative Richard Jones fails to multi-track the future. He seems to be blind to other technology advances that will impact on nanotech development. Quantum computing will provide number-crunching abilities to overcome many of the barriers he suggests that would prevent humanity from developing assemblers, nanobots, and replicators; and artificial intelligence advances could speed research in all areas.

    I just don’t buy Jones’ pessimistic evaluation of the nano future.

    News of an amazing new nanotech possibility appeared in today’s NewScience magazine. An invisible nanotube cable is developed that can support a human. Wow. The entertainment possibilities are endless for this one.

    Comments welcome.

    Posted by: futuretalk   July 21, 2008
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  3. The naysayers always ignore the synergistic relationship between the advancing disciplines; sometimes they even ignore basic science in the same field. Adbatstone80 should look at this link: http://www.zyvex.com/nanotech/impossible.html , one which I encouraged him to do so a while back.

    So, for the last time, open your eyes to what is happening around you, read some science websites – and there are plenty to choose from. Some are even dedicated to nanotechnology or biotechnology. Don’t be one of those people who ends up looking silly because he said heavier than air flying machines are impossible. When something is not forbidden by the laws of physics, it is invented eventually. All the more so when scientists are actively pursuing it as an objective. Are you aware, adbatstone80, that some research groups are actively pursuing molecular nanotechnology of the kind which you scoff at? You seem to be unaware of many things.

    Posted by: CptSunbeam   July 21, 2008
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  4. To people who keep saying that the rest of us are just hopeless pessimists, here is a nice link to MIT project from 1966 that was supposed to completely solve the problem of computer vision during… one summer.

    http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/6125

    Posted by: johnfrink   July 21, 2008
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  5. I do not believe that we can predict the future by comparing what the past was like, or even the present.

    Technologies are advancing exponentially today, and in the future, the rate of exponential advances will increase even more. These include improving our bodies, minds, homes, economy, and everything that exists on our planet.

    Most futurists see a positive future unfolding over the next four to five decades. I’m willing to wait and see if they are correct; how about you?

    Posted by: futuretalk   July 21, 2008
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  6. I still find the idea of a nanofactory mind-boggling but the fact that research is driving towards it is great.

    Posted by: fantasywriter   July 21, 2008
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  7. Yeah, johnfrink, look, people got some predictions of fantastical things wrong, for sure, but there are far more examples of scoffers who turned out to underestimate what was possible. Some of the world’s cleverest minds failed to anticipate (or scoffed at the possibilty of) powered flight, telephones, combustion engines, compact discs, and so on.

    So no, I don’t buy your argument that just because some guy’s fantasy failed that the pessimists are right. You all seem to think that you are vindicated because some people thought we’d be in flying cars by now, but from my perspective it just looks like you have narrow minds and a limited imagination. Just like the people who failed to anticipate the inventions of the 20th century, all of us (including the optimists) will be surprised by the “revolutionary” discoveries to come. The things in this blog are all “evolutionary” – they are mere extensions of present research, and much of it inevitable, and if any the “evolutionary” stuff does not happen by 2030, it will happen eventually, even if it takes 200 years.

    Posted by: CptSunbeam   July 21, 2008
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