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Re: [nanotech] FT Article

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  • Chris Phoenix
    My disappointment was not an act. I really don t like to see someone smeared and denied credit for a massive amount of work. Yes, it is good that they are
    Message 1 of 9 , May 1, 2001
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      My disappointment was not an act. I really don't like to see someone
      smeared and denied credit for a massive amount of work.

      Yes, it is good that they are treating nanotech as a real technology.
      I'm not so sure it's good that they're denying gray goo. Those who
      already fear it will not be comforted by "It was dreamed up by someone
      who is insufficiently scientific." Those who think it's impossible
      should probably get a little better educated. So I don't think brushing
      it off with a cheap ad hominem attack or two will do any good at all.

      Chris

      Steve Wish wrote:
      >
      >
      >
      > eugene.leitl@...-muenchen.de wrote:
      >
      > > Chris Phoenix wrote:
      > >
      > > > Granted nanotech is outside their area of expertise, but they
      > > still
      > > > should have done better than that... whether accidental or
      > > deliberate, I
      > > > now have very little respect for Financial Times.
      > >
      > > Given that they're Mainstream Press (not Nature, not even Science)
      > > they did nicely by my metrics (which, of course, range from
      > > "abysmal"
      > > over "catastrophic" to "miserable").
      > >
      > > Honestly, I don't understand how you can act so disappointed. We've
      > > seen
      > > it, and we've seen it, and we'll see it.
      > >
      >
      > I think that was not only very good, given the conservitism of the
      > paper, but might be more inportant: i.e. it might be a semi official
      > "stamp of legetimacy" for the nanotech idea. By denigrating "grey
      > goo", they are in effect saying that nano is a real technology that is
      > mature enough to make some very conservitive people some very real
      > money. Perhaps there is some real progress somewhere... It's called a
      > "trail baloon"...wish
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      --
      Chris Phoenix cphoenix@... http://www.best.com/~cphoenix
      Interests: nanotechnology, dyslexia, caving, filk, SF, ...
      Is your paradigm shift automatic or stick?
    • eugene.leitl@lrz.uni-muenchen.de
      ... I do not like it, either. Yet it happens all the time. So one better get used to it. ... I no longer have any clear idea what the best course of action is.
      Message 2 of 9 , May 1, 2001
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        Chris Phoenix wrote:
        >
        > My disappointment was not an act. I really don't like to see someone
        > smeared and denied credit for a massive amount of work.

        I do not like it, either. Yet it happens all the time. So one
        better get used to it.

        > Yes, it is good that they are treating nanotech as a real technology.

        I no longer have any clear idea what the best course of action is.
        I guess "let's stop the more obvous holes, and otherwise full
        speed ahead" is the best approximation of what is going on now.

        > I'm not so sure it's good that they're denying gray goo. Those who
        > already fear it will not be comforted by "It was dreamed up by someone
        > who is insufficiently scientific." Those who think it's impossible
        > should probably get a little better educated. So I don't think brushing
        > it off with a cheap ad hominem attack or two will do any good at all.

        It is Press. By definition, whatever it says, it ought to be ignored.
        I very much doubt it defines the policy.
      • Chris Phoenix
        ... What s going on now is that a very mixed message is being delivered. Drexler has been saying for years that we ll have tiny robots with immense power.
        Message 3 of 9 , May 2, 2001
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          eugene.leitl@...-muenchen.de wrote:
          > I no longer have any clear idea what the best course of action is.
          > I guess "let's stop the more obvous holes, and otherwise full
          > speed ahead" is the best approximation of what is going on now.

          What's going on now is that a very mixed message is being delivered.
          Drexler has been saying for years that we'll have tiny robots with
          immense power. Most other scientists have been saying it's impossible,
          and the media has generally agreed (cf. tbe Scientific American article
          a few years ago).

          Now, the word "nanotechnology" has become respectable but fragmented,
          and the public has become aware of it. A few years ago, tiny robots
          really only meant MEMS, but now it's being extended to protein and even
          diamondoid, and this knowledge is starting to trickle down.

          > > I'm not so sure it's good that they're denying gray goo. Those who
          > > already fear it will not be comforted by "It was dreamed up by someone
          > > who is insufficiently scientific." ....
          >
          > It is Press. By definition, whatever it says, it ought to be ignored.
          > I very much doubt it defines the policy.

          It doesn't define the policy, but a lot of policy is made by sadly
          uninformed people; much of the lawmaker's understanding comes from news
          stories, or from constituents who are often even less informed, or from
          groups that have a definite slant to the information they provide.

          But let's ignore the sad state of lawmaking for the moment. I was
          thinking less of policy per se than of the public's response to the
          technology. We are already seeing a backlash, and "gray goo" is a great
          rallying point. It's very scary and not understood very well, and some
          authorities say it might be dangerous while others say it's
          impossible... it's tailor-made to hook environmentalists, luddites,
          etc. There are organized movements today full of people who are
          convinced that nanotech could destroy humanity, and gray goo is one of
          the worst dangers. They can make quite a convincing case to someone who
          hasn't studied the field--in fact, they can make a convincing case to
          someone who *has* studied the field! Without countermeasures, even a
          relatively simple goo could be quite bad.

          So an article that says, "Yes, we will have lots of little tiny complex
          powerful robots (and gives convincing reasons), but gray goo is
          ridiculous (because we don't like the inventor)" will 1) create a false
          sense of security among technophiles; 2) give technophobes a lot of
          ammunition. We cannot afford a false sense of security, either about
          the technology or about the typical person's reactions to it. We should
          learn from what happened to GMOs. You can be sure the radical
          environmentalists did.

          Chris
          --
          Chris Phoenix cphoenix@... http://www.best.com/~cphoenix
          Interests: nanotechnology, dyslexia, caving, filk, SF, ...
          Is your paradigm shift automatic or stick?
        • dgallis@syr.edu
          ... I couldn t agree more. To define the birth of nanotechnology as a product of buckminsterfullerene and buckytubes is to do a great disservice to those out
          Message 4 of 9 , May 2, 2001
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            > It is Press. By definition, whatever it says, it ought to be ignored.
            > I very much doubt it defines the policy.

            I couldn't agree more. To define the birth of nanotechnology as a
            product of buckminsterfullerene and buckytubes is to do a great
            disservice to those out there doing cutting edge research with the X-
            to-the-N number of other macromolecular systems out there. I consider
            this kind of "grossly overgeneralized" public information dissemination
            disheartening, and I would have hoped Fiona Harvey had done a little
            more homework. May I ask where Feynmann was in any of this? I mean,
            if you're going to popularize it in a magazine with little-to-nothing
            to do with the topic, you might as well at least try to hit all of the
            important names that the public might recognize!

            What really kills me is that some of the diligent readers of the
            Financial Times, who might never otherwise read about any of this,
            might walk away with the oh-so-dangerous "and here's what nanotech is,
            everyone!" All of our work and all the money being spent so some
            writer can shrink it down into a digestible tidbit. I get the same
            reaction to seeing those 2 minute special reports on the nightly news.

            ... and don't even get me started on the Drexler sections of the
            article. His work might be way, way, WAY ahead of what we can do
            nowadays, but we're all nothing more than statistical bags of proteins
            and water right now, existing (and then some) in our own little "green
            goo" model. (..stepping on my soapbox...) I don't think the chemical
            community (being a member of that community myself) has really caught
            onto nanotech yet quite the same way engineers have, and I think part
            of that has to do with the nanotech mentality that things need to be
            built instead of synthesized. Once chemists start looking en masse at
            the problems of macromolecular design approaching even some of the
            simple designs and strategies the "out there" theorists are proposing,
            I think there's going to be another major chemical revolution. I
            consider Josef Michl's "molecular building block" approach far more
            interesting and, currently, much more flexible than nanotubes for
            almost everything people are proposing. Does anyone else see that day
            when "nanotube assemblies" are going to be "too big," and people are
            going to have to start really examining molecular-based designs?
            (...stepping down..)

            Once again, the more popular aspects of a field have been taken
            completely out of context and heralded as the only way to get things
            done to those without the background (or care) to do further research
            and know what's really going on. If we told 10,000 scientists that the
            Financial Times was only about "following the stock market numbers you
            can get from NYSE.com", I'm sure the editors would be extremely put
            off.

            Damian Allis
            Graduate Fellow, Syracuse University

            "A real hologram! I mean not real but almost a real hologram."
            Frank Zappa
          • The Wombat
            Article originator here - I hope I did not cause too much angst withthat copy-and-paste earlier. I merely sent it to indicate that there was some very
            Message 5 of 9 , May 4, 2001
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              Article originator here - I hope I did not cause too much angst withthat
              copy-and-paste earlier. I merely sent it to indicate that there was some
              very mainstream press (not all bad I hope Mr Phoenix) at least talking about
              it. And given the nature of the paper itself, it must indicate a bugeoning
              maturity of the technology to even get a mention. The FT is hardly a bastion
              of speculative ideas - speculating, maybe....

              JP
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