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 .