Re: Molecular Nanotechnology Fully Loaded with Benefits and Risks

From: Brock <>
Date: Wed Jan 07 2004 - 04:54:29 EET


Readers of such nanotechnology articles should carefully consider the
source and the content of what they are reading. First, the ideas
expressed are no more enlightening than the basic ideas put forth in
Eric Drexler's 1986 book, Engines of Creation, and by the presenters at
the 1992 Foresight conference on nanotechnology. Second, consider that
the author is from the World Transhumanist Association, which has its
own agenda regarding life extension and transhumanism (basically, they
don't want to die before 120 and if they can hurry up nanotech, they
think it will save them). Third, consider that the article is published
in Small Times, which, although it is probably the most complete and
up-to-date publication covering nanotechnology news, is also owned by
Ardesta LLC, a leading nanotechnology venture capitalist firm, and it is
supported by advertising from such firms as Zyvex and Ardesta (as well
as ads by SRI International, I should disclose, the research institute
from which my company was spun out). Zyvex, which is promoted in the
article, basically failed to do what they set out to do and the
millionaire funding them said they better start making some money, so
now they are trying to sell off rights to some of the tools they
developed. Also Zyvex's inspirational leader has left to return to work
in his original area of expertise, network security.

Finally, readers should consider and review the controversy surrounding
the views expressed in the article. A majority of the scientific
community finds molecular nanotechnology, as described by Drexler,
highly questionable. The debate erupted into a highly charged exchange
of letters between Drexler and Richard Smalley, published in the
December 1, 2003, issue of Chemical & Engineering News, page 37. I
advise you to read those letters carefully, to see if they answer any
questions or simply raise more questions. Whether you support Drexler's
view or not, he is losing the PR battle and it is unlikely the concepts
he wants funded will get much money any time soon, putting into question
how soon any of the wonderful rewards described in the article you cite
will ever be received. However, if you have some money to spend, you
should contact Neil Jacobstein, at the Institute for Molecular
Manufacturing (, who has a check list of projects he sees as
the start toward that goal.

I am not trying to discourage anyone from being interested in
nanotechnology. Quite the contrary. I am simply warning people to be
careful about what they get excited about. Define your terms. Describe
experiments that can be repeated. Be realistic about timing. Consider
competing technologies and alternative routes to nanotech. Consider who
is actually willing to pay for the products of whatever it is you are
calling nanotech.

Brock Hinzmann
Technology Navigator
SRIC Consulting Business Intelligence
Menlo Park, California

Terry Wohlers wrote:

> Happy New Year! I stumbled across an interesting article that was
> published yesterday. It's titled Molecular Nanotechnology Fully Loaded
> with Benefits and Risks. You may disagree with some of the ideas
> presented in it, but it is thought-provoking none-the-less. To view
> the article, go to
>, scroll down to
> "Other articles (2001-2004)" and click on the article's title.
> Best wishes to everyone for a safe and successful 2004. Terry
> ************
> Terry Wohlers
> Principal Consultant & President
> Wohlers Associates, Inc.
> OakRidge Business Park
> 1511 River Oak Drive
> Fort Collins, Colorado 80525 USA
> 970-225-0086
> Fax 970-225-2027
Received on Wed Jan 07 04:45:05 2004

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