Re: Nano in SF Weekly/Wow
- Clements, Robert wrote:
> From: "Clements, Robert" <Robert.Clements@...>i won't argue the point, just suggest that we are seeing the difference between
> Wrong analogy. The motor car was a relatively simple fusion of two
> preexisting systems (the carriage & the internal combustion engine) built
> during a period where initial designs could literally be built in backyard
> workshops & minimarketed before (even after: qv the infamous Morgan motor
> co.) it became a mass produced product. It also had a series of obvious
> broadly marketable applications (mostly in the mass transportation area) to
> inspire construction.
> NT is a hi cost/hi tech concept which could conceivably do a lot of things
> but which is currently _necessary_ for nothing... which is why the GM
> analogy is uncomfortably important in this case.
> All the best,
> Robert Clements <Robert.Clements@...>
hindsight and foresight...few people at the time thought that cars were more
than toys for the rich and the eccentric, at the time. Horse had worked fine for
two or three thousand years atthat point...steve w.
- At 10:19 AM 12/31/99 +1100, Clements, Robert wrote:
>> As for who's paying, let's not forget that Mir has just about paid forI read that claim in a book on the Soviet space program. I can't find the
>> itself over a time span of several decades.
>MIR has been a capital drain on the Soviet/CIS/Russian economies since day
>one. When this drain could be justified as a testbed for the secret manned
>Mars program, the mission was politically ok; but when the politicoeconomic
>will for such joyrides vanished, so did MIR's reason for being. In terms of
>the money spent putting - & keeping - it in orbit, MIR could never have paid
>its way; even if they ran commercial flights to it from here 'til
book now, so I won't try to defend the claim. IIRC it was based on zero-G
crystal growth and other industrial products.
>Whether the technology works or not isn't my point: it's whether it becomesWhy do people buy SUVs? It's not because they need them!
>something people will pay good money to buy. Electronics has done splendidly
>without NT: apart from limited specialist technologies (robotic space
>exploration, say), why do you think people will continue to want to pay for
>new technolgies every two years just because the capacity to create the
>technologies exists?; & if they don't play ball, how do you expect to
>finance the massive infrastructure costs involved in generating these
Every few years, someone asks whether we really need all that compute power.
And for five decades we have really needed it all to run the applications we
want. Granted, the apps are inefficient--look at Windows vs. Linux memory
requirements--but there are also things that really need that much crunch
power, such as handwriting and speech recognition. Soon, video CODEC
(especially driven by new display technologies). I don't know what the next
killer app will be, but I'm pretty sure of two things: that there will be
one, and that it will need at least a Pentium II-300 to run. The one after
that will need a Pentium III-500.
>The explosion in computer technologies - often used as a justification inNT "can" generate novelties in almost any field. Medicine, neural
>this context - is solely due to the fact that it started from a zero
>comparative base (ie, not only were there no computers, there was nothing
>seriously like computers in the amrket): even now, the nearexponential
>growth is slowing (the main push for computing technologies is in gaming);
>so what makes you think that NT can generate novelties which will induce a
>new rush to buy in the future?
interface, infrastructure, construction, aerospace... Which industries would
a replicating assembler make a difference in? I can't think of one where it
wouldn't. Given that, which industries will want it badly enough to pay for
it? Well, I'd guess that biotech, computers, and aerospace will want a lot
of the preliminary steps, and then defense will push it over the edge
(unless something else does first). Consider the military advantage of
unlimited production capacity and nano-weapons. There's no way we could let
someone else get there first.
>Moore's law is already slowing; as it grinds against twin barriers ofMoore's law is slowing? That's news to me! What are your references? I've
>technical limitation & market saturation. It's been a hell of a ride; but
>the ridiculous stage of information technology profitability is ending,
>kids. What possible mass market technology could refire it once computing
>technology is inserted into all significant consumer items & video interface
>technology reaches HDTV standard? None that i can see.
always heard that it was speeding up (the doubling time was decreasing).
How about communications? There are several orders of magnitude to go
before we can efficiently supply point-to-point HDTV video analogous to the
Computing technology in all significant consumer items? Well... computers
have been in cars for years, but GPS mapping is still in its early/luxury
stages. We don't have anything close to a Pentium in most cars--or even in
>(The rest of your analogies are at best speciality niches; although each inA product? You want products? OK... understand that this will be a lower
>themselves might be quite profitable... the military cash cow in particular.
>I note, however, that you haven't provided a single unambiguous product in
bound, not a realistic forecast. First, let's look at the gizmos that can
be combined to make the products. Electric motors with 10,000 times the
power-to-weight ratio of today's, at size scales down to 50 nm. "Smart"
materials with embedded sensors and effectors. Fuel cells at all scales,
99% efficient. Materials 10-100 times as strong as today's best. Computing
too cheap to meter. Unlimited ability to specify complexity in the
product--1,000 sensors are as cheap as one.
An aircar, 100% reliable, with dial-and-forget navigation.
A suit that adjusts thermal conductivity and keeps you clean and comfortable
in environments from the South Pole to the Sahara, but when in a comfortable
environment becomes almost undetectable to the wearer.
A one-pound flying bomb (with no metal parts) that can reconfigure from
quiet/stealthy to supersonic; has a range of up to hundreds of miles; can be
programmed with complex maneuvers, reactions, and tropisms, and precise
targeting. Hundreds of thousands can be configured, built, launched, and
controlled each hour.
A suspension of a few grams of cellular-sized air tankers; when injected,
provides oxygen for several hours, and can recharge themselves from the
lungs as appropriate. Useful for emergencies and recreation (SCUBA). This
is R. Freitas' respirocytes.
A surgical instrument that can create a painless, bloodless incision, and
then heal it in seconds without a scar.
An eye implant that taps into the optic nerve, and can capture what the user
sees and replay it (to the same person). I think it's likely that we'll be
able to decode and transfer the recording, but I'm not 100% sure of that.
Also, this device might cause dizziness or other problems.
A home power generator that'll run on almost any fuel; is 99% efficient;
requires less space than an electric meter; is silent; has all the necessary
electronics to sell power back to the grid; can regenerate fuel (store
energy) from inputs such as solar or cheap nighttime power.
>In a mature economic structure, the real money is made in servicing aA mature economic structure... does that mean stable, adjusted to the
>technology rather than building it (this statement is true of information,
>too, by the way). Design products which will sell & then use the technology
>necessary to build 'em is the way to succeeed... not invent a technology; &
>hope like hell there's a sustainable market out there for it....
technology? I'm not sure we'll ever have that again. I'm not sure we
should want it.
Products that will sell... how much would you pay for a car that was safer
than today's, more fuel efficient, got you places at 200 mph as the crow
flies, and you didn't have to drive? Personally, I'd pay about three times
what my current car is worth. If it took 100 kg of fairly pure materials to
build... that would mean a manufacturing cost of less than $500. Prototypes
would also cost $500 rather than $100,000, so the engineering cost would be
quite low compared to today's process. Of course, it's possible that by the
time nanotech gets cheap, there will be other technologies that can compete
But here's the paradigm I don't think you're getting. Nanotech is not for
building individual products. It's a new, and much cheaper, way of building
almost anything that can be designed. How many industries would find it
worthwhile to own a technology that would allow them to cut their product
engineering costs in half, and their manufacturing costs by 95%?
How big is the cosmetics/fashion industry? Nanotech would completely
revolutionize those industries, with products that can't be duplicated by
Imagine a new form of mass transit: it costs only $100 per mile to install,
including dealing with the old infrastructure. You can install a mile in a
day. It costs less than a penny per passenger-mile (including maintenance).
Each passenger has their own capsule, which can be routed directly from
source to destination at a top speed of 150 MPH (obviously less if there are
sharp curves in the track). How long would it take to catch on? How much
would it be worth?
I could keep writing for hours, describing products that people would want
if only they were cheap enough. And I wouldn't even have touched on the
products that we can't imagine now--the real killer apps that will become
possible when we can build 10^18 times as much complexity into our products
for the same price. There's absolutely no doubt that one organization which
controlled this technology (owned key patents, or security classifications)
would become incredibly rich and/or powerful. It is an incredibly good
long-term investment. Will it happen? I believe it will, because everyone
will be afraid of other people getting to it first, and because within 20
years it will be easy to do.
Chris Phoenix cphoenix@... http://www.best.com/~cphoenix
Work (Reading Research Council): http://www.dyslexia.com
Is your paradigm shift automatic or stick?