How Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

K. Eric Drexler, the founding father of nanotechnology talks about the rapid scientific progress that is about to change our world. In Radical Abundance: How a Revolution in Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization he explains that the result will shake the very foundations of our economy and environment.


K. Eric Drexler

Comments [22]

MolecularSilicone from Earth

Drexler is right. The technology is possible and is based on known fundamental principles of chemistry and biology: Molecules can be made into machine parts and store information data and programmed molecular machines can perform useful work. The technology is advancing rapidly across all fronts.

Regarding coal and oil: Coal and Oil will become obsolete for energy, maybe they will be used for feedstocks..until we can extract useful molecules from other sources such as the trillions of tons of carbon in the atmosphere...and the silicon in the rock strata..and asteroid and Lunar resources....but the petroleum and coal for energy and natural gas for energy industry will be last.

Solar Electric Conversion and Chemical Fuel cells will become cheap with nanotechnology.

Regarding land: Yes, choice pieces of land such as beachfront California property will remain limited but who cares? You can always grow your own NEW land in the oceans, make your own island..with manmade nano coral dozens of times stronger than steel and featherlight. You can also cheaply move into space and build Earthlike habitats that are better than the Earth itself with this technology.

Nanotechnology will allow people to reproduce and duplicate any stable pattern of molecules. No more discontinued items. You can download, scan, and record the original pattern or structure and you have it..forever.

Once elemental transmutation via controlled nuclear fusion comes to pass..then even rare elements will no longer be rare. Ofcourse, with assemblers and replicators you could construct anything you need from common, abundant elements like carbon, silicon, oxygen, boron, nitrogen, iron, aluminum, etc.

Aug. 21 2014 10:26 AM
Mark Plus from Mayer, Arizona

Eric Drexler can't deliver the goods he's promised us for about 30 years now, and yet he keeps stringing us along. Why does anyone still pay attention to this charlatan?

May. 09 2013 11:33 AM
Wila from Sea Cliff

Exciting, visionary, provocative, inspiring. And so doable…as long as those who inhabit the status quo do not sabotage. Requires embrace of paradigm shift, across a broad spectrum of disciplines: science supporting engineering supporting economics supporting philosophy supporting social/moral and personal fulfillment. A new sense of what physical resources and their deployment can be. Recycling and recycling…at the ATOMIC level!! Everything old is new again-- and always has been, at least, if I am correct in my understanding, that neither matter nor energy can be created or destroyed.*
Relief, and a logical follow-on, from our enthrallment with the current BIG DATA moment, we could achieve more authentic exercise of creative thinking and execution. Envision a world wherein "wealth" would truly be a state of mind, a richness of ideas, thought, and virtue, and a portfolio of experiences, both physical and virtual. Bigger is better would cease to be the over-reaching dictate of value. We might, at every tax bracket, unburden ourselves and eschew individual hoarding. Over-sized "homes" with multiple WIC, three-car garages, U-Store-it for warehousing of STUFF (even George Carlin couldn't save us from our present selves!), and SUVs for hauling it would cease to be cogent industries. And, not to worry about job loss; we will have moved on, and there will be, as always, new enterprises, other challenges and endeavors in which to engage. A rich existence will be defined by a better integration of doing and having, making and sharing, learning and teaching. Imagine "IWWIWWIWI" (I Want What I Want When I Want It) doable without the compromise or exploitation of our fellows, or the planet we inhabit.

…The one thing that will likely lag or may not ever evolve, regardless of technology, is human nature. The human penchant for inventing destruction first is the frighteningly repetitive and sad history from we struggle to shake free. Today's byline: instructions for producing a gun using 3D print technology….to be published on the internet…because we can.

*(I sadly admit, the extent of my grasp of physics. And, not considering, give or take, a bit of out-going space junk and incoming meteor debris.)

May. 09 2013 08:06 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

So much of humanity is going be working at home as self-employed nanotechnologist. A virtual cottage workshop under a thatch roof. The rest who can’t will just have to die.
This guy is full of himself and a total con.

May. 08 2013 02:13 AM
Lucia from New York

Someone give this fellow media training. He's making all us scientists look awful. He's not explaining himself clearly and this monotonic voice of his -- an act, I've heard him before at conferences -- will certainly inspire little interest.
On top of that, he's been very condescending; what a nightmare guest.

May. 08 2013 01:31 AM
Jf from The future

This is utopian. I will personally deliver new apm to everyone that loses a job from it.s invention.

May. 07 2013 01:59 PM
Amy from Manhattan

How would the transition from polluting energy sources be handled for people who make their living from coal or oil?

May. 07 2013 01:58 PM
pliny from soho

this sounds like alchemy.

May. 07 2013 01:56 PM
John A

The issue is money that could help the poor going instead to a bubble of morally isolated losers. Rome, Greece, Downton Manor, Zardoz. All of them in their own time, and all replaced.

May. 07 2013 01:55 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Actually, if these products *are* recyclable by breaking them down to their original atoms again, will there be no need to make "new" products? Will the materials just be reused indefinitely?

May. 07 2013 01:54 PM
KittyKite from LIC

I'm with Nathan Hinder from Levittown, NY! This guy is too much, get him outta here!

May. 07 2013 01:52 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

One thing that no technology can produce is more land. Land, also called "Real Estate," is always going to be in relatively short supply. So housing will always be going up vertically rather than horizontally. Only the very rich will be able to own land and live in a large house as we now know it. But it won't really matter much. Ownership of it will just be a symbol, as it already is.Most people don't want land to farm these days anyway.

May. 07 2013 01:52 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Stable doesn't always mean safe. Lead is a very stable element, but it's toxic. And what about the atoms/molecules in the APM products when a product is thrown out--or will they all be recyclable?

May. 07 2013 01:51 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

To John A

At some point in this process, people will be paid only to THINK. Labor, as we once knew it, will become non-existent. Of course, the top 1% of thinkers and idea-producers will be the best compensated, while the other 99% who are not great idea-producers will be living at subsistence, which does not mean starvation or anything like that. Just living in tiny apartments hooked up to their virtual environments that need few physical requirements. Of course, the wealthy, as always, will live in large mansions, but even so, most of them will be hooked up to the system as well. Just as a rich man today living a huge mansion can only sit in one of his rooms watching a movie at any one time, so the poor may only have one room rather than 20, but it really won't matter. There will always be a top 1% no matter what happens. Always was, and always will be.

May. 07 2013 01:47 PM
John A

Rhe derivation of Eric's thinking is pretty obvious, the microchip, which was a circuit board shrunk about million times, plus Atomic Force Microscopy, which can move atoms. Both from decades ago.

May. 07 2013 01:44 PM
Amy from Manhattan

If labor costs will be so low, how will the laborers be able to afford the products? Even if they're comparatively cheap, they could still cost too much for people who
aren't paid enough.

May. 07 2013 01:44 PM
John A

Ultra-ironic that this segment comes the same day as Jaron Lanier's. Will this radical abundance go mainly to those that own the future or to everyone? Hasn't everyone been watching social "progress" 1980-present?

May. 07 2013 01:38 PM
Darrell Perry from 10001

Ask him about gun making now possible with 3d printers, any thoughts?

May. 07 2013 01:37 PM
naseem from westchester

Can you give one example that has realistic chances of happening?

May. 07 2013 01:35 PM
nathan shinder from levittown NY

Gee, that's unlikely- the Star Trek replicator influenced by a 1986 book???? They had that in the 1960's version of the show. Did Rexler invent a working time machine, as well? {or think he did??}

May. 07 2013 01:34 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

In addition to virtual reality, which will make movement outside the home virtually unnecessary, nanotechnology will not only extend life and health, but will make robots a genuine reality. "Shortage of resources" will become a non-sequitar. There will no longer be any shortage of resources. In other words, "heaven on earth" is being built as we speak. The transition is what is difficult to comprehend and experience for many.

May. 07 2013 01:33 PM
John A

Does Eric carry any message of moderation with him? There are others, Ray Kurzweil, for example who seem to forget humanity on the tech equation.
Leonard - think iron cells.

May. 07 2013 01:31 PM

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