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Diamond Age Approaching?

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the i-friggin-hope-so dept.

Science 750

CosmicDreams writes "The CRN (Center for Responsible Nanotechnology) reports that nanofactories (like the ones that were installed in every home in Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age) will arrive "almost certainly within 20 years". In short they claim that molecular nanotechnology manufacturing will solve many of the world's problems, catalyze a technologic revolution, and start the greatest arms race we've ever seen. They conclude the risks are so great that we should discuss how to deal with this technology so that we don't kill each other when it arrives."

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750 comments

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SLASHDOT IS GAY! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009399)

that is all...

Don't buy diamonds now (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009412)

They're overpriced and will be worthless in a few years. You won't be able to tell the "real" from the manufactured.

Re:Don't buy diamonds now (1)

XeroDegrees (717293) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009466)

there was a program in the uk about this, DeBeers had a method for finding manafactured diamonds... it worked on the sub-atomic level, at that scale its indistingushable from a natrually formed on to the naked eye

Re:Don't buy diamonds now (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009612)

debeers uses metallic spectra formed when the diamonds (synthetic) are subject to pressure vessel contaminants (mostly metal particles) to detect real from synthetic. BTW, debeers has no process for identifying the new CVD processed diamonds which do not require metal pressure vessels and hence have no metallic spectra.

Uhm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009417)

To avoid killing each other?

If I were in Washington, I'd wonder what the point would be to that.

We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (5, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009426)


One of the great promises of nanotech are mini-attack bots which can eliminate cancer cells, viruses, germs, etc etc. What, though, will happen when someone comes up with a way to attack cells based on the DNA within? Racial cleansing, removal of unworthies from the pool. It may not happen but it very well could if they don't come up with global policies and laws. (even then...)

Yeah, that's likely far in the future but 50 years ago a desktop computer was impossible.

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (5, Funny)

strictnein (318940) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009470)

Yeah, that's likely far in the future but 50 years ago a desktop computer was impossible.

No... you just needed a really big (and strong) desk.

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009511)


Heh.. well if your idea of a "desk" was sitting on a reenforced concrete floor.. ;)

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009576)

My computer rests on the floor...I guess that'd work. ;)

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (3, Funny)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009471)

Oh that's no problem. In today's society we'll just download a patch after releasing a market-rushed, extremely flawed, half ass version 1.0.

Not gonna happen. (5, Interesting)

CrystalFalcon (233559) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009517)

Your wish about laws and treaties - or rather, effective laws and treaties - ain't gonna happen.

Anything man CAN do, man WILL do. Regardless of if rules are in the way.

Even if we had such a thing as global laws (which ain't gonna happen anytime soon, either), the difference is that nanotech engineering would just be performed by outlaws instead of official scientists. Anything that carries a reward will get done, by somebody, somewhere. The greater the potential reward, the more people will be attempting it.

Whether it is legal is secondary to many enough people that it won't really matter whether it is.

Re:Not gonna happen. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009726)

There is some hope. Obtaining and creating the technology to do this stuff without somebody noticing wouldn't be any easier than building a nuclear explosive, but we haven't had a nuclear end to civilization yet...

If the future arrives...that is (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009573)

They conclude the risks are so great that we should discuss how to deal with this technology so that we don't kill each other when it arrives.

Take my word for it...as we gradually run out of oil [economist.com] , (and we will reach the halfway mark sometime between 2015-2030 according to that article), the rising costs, scarcity and worries will spark many more serious wars than the current one (of which oil is the root cause, I believe) a long time before the "final crunch".

It remains to be seen if we will have a future left to worry/fantasize about if the current world scenario continues down it's plunging curve.

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (5, Funny)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009575)

If we outlaw nanotech, only mad scientists will have nanotech.

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (4, Insightful)

grahams (5366) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009583)

Ummm, why do we need special laws for this. Wouldn't the existing anti-genocide laws apply?

There is no reason to create new laws when existing ones apply.

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (4, Insightful)

TheMMaster (527904) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009680)

Yeah, I don't really see why the world would be better of with a "anti-genocide using nanotech" law...

That would imply that NOT using nanotech is OK.

Court: Did you kill all those poor people with hindsight?
Evil dictator: I did, I hate them
Court: DID YOU USE NANOTECH?
Evil dictator: No, of course not, that's against the LAW!
Court: OK, you are free to go

I mean, really... EACH AND EVERY piece of technology will be used to kill people.
And if it isn't in the first place, someone will find a creative and interesting way to use it to kill people...

people are very creative when it comes to killing other people... sad, really

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (0, Flamebait)

Matrix272 (581458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009639)

What, though, will happen when someone comes up with a way to attack cells based on the DNA within? Racial cleansing, removal of unworthies from the pool. It may not happen but it very well could if they don't come up with global policies and laws. (even then...)

I know I'm going to get flamed pretty bad for this suggestion, but maybe that's not such a bad thing. Seriously, if you could eliminate all the "undesirable" people from a generation, and practically guarantee that the traits that are undesirable would never again "plague" humanity, is that really such a bad concept?

In the first 50 years of these nanobots, we could effectively eliminate all disease, laziness, stupidity, arrogance, etc. Besides, say goodbye to the hereditary diseases, like glaucoma. No more bad eyesight (although now with LASIK, it's fairly easy to correct... I've done it) or bad hearing.

I'm just curious if anyone else wonders if the price would be too high, even if the benefits would come over the next millenium, leading to billions of lives saved from disease and stupidity. I'm not saying I'd approve of it... I'm just curious if anyone else had actually thought about it seriously, and objectively.

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (1)

MikeXpop (614167) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009730)

You sir should go ahead and go to your local blockbuster (or Kazaa) and rent (download) Gattaca [imdb.com] . Human life is not something to be taken lightly, no matter how "unequipped".

Is Hitler moderating on Slashdot now? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009738)

I can't believe this got modded up. You're talking about just killing off people because they don't meet some definition of "worthy."

I've got type 1 diabetes (not the weight related type 2). Do I fit into your new order? My immune system is a little bit messed up, but other than that, I think I can contribute to society.

The point is, it doesn't even need to be based on diseases or anything like that. One person's worthiness could just as easily be people with blue eyes and blonde hair, or people over 6 feet tall, or people without freckles.

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (1)

TheMMaster (527904) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009757)

That was tried before, it was around 1940-45, to create the master race...

Who will make the rules? Who will release those 'bots? really man... Someone else deciding who should live or die, is ALWAYS to high a price to pay, REGARDLESS of the goal.

I'm not some sort of pussy I love everyone person, but I sure as hell wouldn't want to see my uncle die (he has some genetic mental problems) because that would be better for the human race...

and lazyness isn't plagueing mankind, it's the solution ;) if everyone was lazy nobody would care that they where, in fact, lazy ;)

In other words, it's just inexcusable for ANY reason to have someone decide it's time for someone else to die.

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (1)

southpolesammy (150094) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009676)

I'm envisioning a new method of government sponsored assassinations, where diplomats pass the nano-attackbots on to the intended victim via handshake. The diplomat would have a proximity sensor implant that tells the nano-attackbots to attack when they are more than 1km away from the sensor. Leave the embassy, get safely away, and you'll never hear the screams....

Hmmm...this has so many nasty implications...

Re:We need to pass laws and treaties NOW. (1)

southpolesammy (150094) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009717)

you know in retrospect....

Score: -1, Disturbing...

WAGE WAR TO STOP WAR !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009697)

You sound like Bill Clinton. Dude commits ethnic cleansing in Krajina, Croatia then attacks Yugoslavia claiming "Ethnic Cleansing". We don't need to pass laws against nanobots. NOT NOW, at least.

We do not need "global laws". We need vigilance and circumspection but not "UN/HooverInstitute/IMF/WTO" style tribunals. Yet.

Sometimes I doubt... (4, Interesting)

Kiriwas (627289) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009431)

There has been talk after every revolution that we're going to destroy ourselves. For better or for worse, I sometimes doubt its possible. We're like cockroaches.. even our most fatal diseases end up having a few people immune to them. Every technology comes along and integrates itself into our society. These will too. I'm not really worried.

Re:Sometimes I doubt... (1)

darth_MALL (657218) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009473)

*knocks on wood*

borg reference. (1)

junkymailbox (731309) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009525)

we're borg. resistance is futile.

Re:Sometimes I doubt... (4, Insightful)

GoofyBoy (44399) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009617)

>Every technology comes along and integrates itself into our society ... so far.

The chance of a global nuclear war occuring is much less than it was during the 80's because of pro-active action, not by saying "those bombs will eventually be integrated into society"

Re:Sometimes I doubt... (1, Insightful)

jafac (1449) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009633)

Other technologies don't have the capability to wipe out all life on the planet.

One thing is certain. You can sit a representative of every nation on the planet down, and let them talk about it until they're blue in the face, or until they "agree" to some peaceful future.

Within 5 years, that agreement will have either been violated openly, or in secret, or the group of representatives you started with now exclude a whole range of new "players".

We've proven this over and over again, with nuclear weapons, and pollution controls, diseases, etc.

In short, this race is pathetic, and deserves to extinguish itself. The sooner the better.

Re:Sometimes I doubt... (1)

RagingDaigo (716192) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009634)

Are there individuals who can display immunity to HIV?

Re:Sometimes I doubt... (2, Informative)

Narcissus (310552) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009700)

The first result [accessexcellence.org] from searching Google for "immunity to hiv" suggests so...

Re:Sometimes I doubt... (2, Interesting)

Max von H. (19283) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009737)

> Are there individuals who can display immunity to HIV?

Yes, some occurences of natural immunity to the HIV has been observed in a group of Kenyan prostitutes. It is thought this immunity is caused by repetitive exposure to various strains of the virus, but once this exposure stops the persons become HIV-positive.

More info on http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/619316.stm or search Google for "HIV immunity prostitutes".

Re:Sometimes I doubt... Don't Doubt (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009661)

Actually since 1945 mankind already has had the ability to destroy himself. I think nuclear weapons are a more likely threat and the technology has been available for almost 50 years now.

Re:Sometimes I doubt... (1)

AbbyNormal (216235) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009678)

"We're like cockroaches."

Okay, Agent Smith...

hehe

Re:Sometimes I doubt... (4, Funny)

pubjames (468013) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009716)

Dinosaur one: It's great ruling the world isn't it?
Dinosaur two: Yes, it's great!
Dinosaur one: It's like, we're the best! You can't beat us!
Dinosaur two: Yes! Like, we're the tops! Go dinos!
Dinosaur one: Go dinos!!
Dinosaur two: Yes! Go dinos!! Go go go!!!
Dinosaur one: Look at that pretty light in the sky!
Dinosaur two: Oh yes. Pretty! And growing.

The Neil Diamond Age!!! (2, Interesting)

jameskojiro (705701) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009433)

Oh NO! I guess we will all start listening to Crappy Music until we go insane!!!

Re:The Neil Diamond Age!!! (1)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009565)

"Forever in blue jeans, Yeah..."

You have ruined the morning!

"almost certainly within 20 years" (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009439)

"almost certainly within 20 years"...so right after those flying cars and human-equivalent AI that are about 10 years off, right?

What? (0, Redundant)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009441)

No there won't be nanofactories in everybody's homes in 20 years, that's nonsense! I'd be surprised if there were any within 100 years. And it is naive to think they'll be put to use solving the worlds problems.

More info (5, Interesting)

CosmicDreams (23020) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009445)

I've written in my journal about their proclaimed timeline. Excert here:

"The Space Shuttle took less than ten years to design and build, from 1972 to 1981. The atomic bomb took only three years, from 1942 to 1945. Both of these programs involved more new science research and more development of new technologies and techniques than an assembler program would likely require. As analyzed above, they probably cost more too. The main question in estimating a timeline for fabricator development, then, is when it will be technically and politically feasible. There are probably five or more nations, and perhaps several large companies, that could finance a molecular fabricator effort starting in this decade. The technical feasibility depends on the enabling technologies. Even a single present-day technology, dip-pen nanolithography, may be able to fabricate an entire proto-fabricator with sufficient effort. At this point, we have not seen anything to make us believe that a five-year $10 billion fabricator project, starting today, would be infeasible, though we don't yet know enough to estimate its chance of success. Five years from now, we expect that a five-year project will be obviously feasible, and its cost may be well under $5 billion."

source [crnano.org]

Journal [slashdot.org]

Re:More info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009609)

So let's see, if that's a logarithminc progression
In 10 years, it'll cost 1 billion.
In 15 it'll cost 100 million.
Wait 30 years and then jump in, it'll cost $5 :)

nice sensationalism (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009448)

"and start the greatest arms race we've ever seen. They conclude the risks are so great that we should discuss how to deal with this technology so that we don't kill each other when it arrives."

50 B.C. - What a terrible weapon the catapult is!
600 A.D. - What a terrible weapon the crossbow is!
1550 A.D. - What a terrible weapon the cannon is!
1865 A.D. - What a terrible weapon the machine gun is!
1945 A.D. - What a terrible weapon nuclear weapons are!
2004 A.D. - What a terrible weapon nanotechnology is!

we have been hearing the same stuff since the beginning of history.

Im sure we will be JUST FINE.

Re:nice sensationalism (5, Funny)

eggoeater (704775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009495)

Im sure we will be JUST FINE.
Famous last words if there ever were any....

Re:nice sensationalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009497)

How horrible it is to end a sentence with "is" or "are"!

booyah!

Re:nice sensationalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009544)

and what is the last word of your first sentence?

BOOYARG!

Re:nice sensationalism (4, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009570)

we have been hearing the same stuff since the beginning of history.

So it will never be true? By that logic because a weatherman incorectly predicts rain for 3 days, if on the 4th day he predicts it again it's a 100% guarantee it won't happen?

This technology if successful will transform humanity, and we should try to achieve it. But to insist that we should just proceed without thinking about the consequences on the basis that "well that crossbow didn't destroy us" is a little naive.

Re:nice sensationalism (2, Funny)

Matrix272 (581458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009710)

By that logic because a weatherman incorectly predicts rain for 3 days, if on the 4th day he predicts it again it's a 100% guarantee it won't happen?

No, by the 4th day, everyone will have realized he had no credibility and stopped watching his channel.

Re:nice sensationalism (1)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009763)

His point is, based on the most common reasoning of each the time periods, every revolutionary weapon technology is horrible, and shouldn't be produced or used.

And even today, 59 years after its first use, people still fear and hate nuclear weapons, though hat doesn't mean they didn't have legitimate use at some point. (Regardless of whether or not the nukes dropped on Japan saved millions of lives, the threat of nuclear warfare kept relations between NATO and the Soviet Union fairly peaceful, even if they were still hostile.)

So what is mob opinion telling us today about nanotechnology? It's telling us that nanotechnology is horrible, and shouldn't be produced or used. Not that I agree.

Moonbase and Moonwar by Ben Bova. They do an excellent job highlighting the likely results of fear and FUD against nanotechnology.

Re:nice sensationalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009591)

Perhaps we are just fine precisely because we have spent so much time worrying about this, and not allowed any particular weapons system or technology to engulf our lives entirely.

Re:nice sensationalism (1)

chefbb (691732) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009629)

And at every step we've managed to kill more and more people. How many people could you kill in a day with a catapult vs a cannon vs a machine gun, etc. They just keep getting worse. Or better. Depends on which side you're on.

I doubt it can be stoped. As a race, we're bent on self destruction, but it is rather sobering.

Re:nice sensationalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009673)

"And at every step we've managed to kill more and more people. How many people could you kill in a day with a catapult vs a cannon vs a machine gun, etc. They just keep getting worse."

and yet global population keeps climbing, and climbing, and climbing....

Rwanda (1)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009764)

Just using machetes, in Rwanda a few years ago they managed to kill more people per day than died in 9.11.2001 world trade centre; every day for 100 days. I can't remember it getting 100 times the news coverage of the US event though :-(

Re:nice sensationalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009720)

2267 A.D. - Cpt. James T. Kirk: Photon torpedoes, full spread, gotcha motherfuckers!

I for one... (-1, Troll)

eggoeater (704775) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009453)

I for one welcome our new molecular nanotechnology overlords.... OK... go ahead and mod me down... I deserve it.

In other news (5, Insightful)

CrystalFalcon (233559) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009457)

In other news, Center Dedicated To Promoting Specific Technology reports that Technology, which is just around the corner, will revolutionize the economy, end world hunger, provide limitless energy, and make your teeth whiter while you sleep.

All in about 20 years, by which you will well have forgotten this press release.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Re:In other news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009722)

And by which you will well will the well will which witch

And this is dangerous because of why? (2, Insightful)

drizst 'n drat (725458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009461)

"Molecular nanotechnology will be a significant breakthrough, comparable perhaps to the Industrial Revolution--but compressed into a few years. This has the potential to disrupt many aspects of society and politics. The power of the technology may cause two competing nations to enter a disruptive and unstable arms race. Weapons and surveillance devices could be made small, cheap, powerful, and very numerous. Cheap manufacturing and duplication of designs could lead to economic upheaval. Overuse of inexpensive products could cause widespread environmental damage. Attempts to control these and other risks may lead to abusive restrictions, or create demand for a black market that would be very risky and almost impossible to stop; small nanofactories will be very easy to smuggle, and fully dangerous. There are numerous severe risks--including several different kinds of risk--that cannot all be prevented with the same approach. Simple, one-track solutions cannot work. The right answer is unlikely to evolve without careful planning." There is a lot of subjective inuendo in this but I am not convinced that this will lead to anything more dangerous than what we have now. I just love when people start crying about the sky falling!

Re:And this is dangerous because of why? (1)

ostrich2 (128240) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009653)

Did you see the article a week or so ago about how nanoparticles severely crippled fish in an experiment? Wouldn't it be great to make trillions of these things in five years only to find out in ten that we've wiped out our entire food supply? Man, that would be awesome!

Can't Wait! (4, Funny)

WwWonka (545303) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009464)

and start the greatest arms race we've ever seen.

Awesome! There is nothing better than a watching limbs battle it for supremecy on a mile oval!

Although I may be more excited about the detached ankle crawl obsticle course.

The Sky is falling! the Sky is falling!! (5, Interesting)

KimiDalamori (579444) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009468)

It is my opinion that since the dawn of literacy, People have been predicting the impending doom caused by new technology. Anyone ever read about how ther were worried about setting the hydrogen in the air on fire when they did the Manhattan Project? Yes, as any boy scout will tell you, being prapared is usually a good thing, but please can the gloom-n-doom because the world isn't going to end just because we made really small machines. *grumble*

Re:The Sky is falling! the Sky is falling!! (1)

KimiDalamori (579444) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009512)

yeah, i know, my spelling sucks. That'll teach me to use the preview button next time... =P

WMDs (5, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009469)

"Well, we were pretty sure that Saddam Hussein III had at least 18 microscopic nuclear warheads hidden in the Arabian desert. We've not found them yet, but we will! We will!"

grey goo (2, Interesting)

spune (715782) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009474)

Queue in the Grey Goo theorists. Personally, it's probably be to humanities benefit to be turned into a nanomechanic slop if we're irresponsible enough to make this buggers self-replicate without a suicide switch.

The next age (5, Funny)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009485)

I welcome the diamond age - it is nice to finally put the bronze age behind us. I look forward to my diamond ax head.

and where does the energy come from? (5, Insightful)

Idylwyld (324288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009487)

While the nano-replicators Stephenson envisions in Diamond Age are pretty cool the two things not well discussed were the source of raw materials (glossed over) and the power source (not discussed at all). We've still got a long way to go before these things can be worked out.

-The whole world is going to hell and I'm driving the bus...

Re:and where does the energy come from? (4, Informative)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009664)

You must have been reading an abridged version. The nanites where built from carbon due to its abundance and tenselary strength compared to its weight. The Vitorians pulled their material out of the water supply, relying on the impurities that the rest of socity intoruced into it. Most of the nanites used clockwork or RF transmited power (a filiment that vibrates when exposed to certain frequencies of radio waves, same place that RFID tags get their juice).

Re:and where does the energy come from? (1)

Idylwyld (324288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009718)

No, read the full version. Energy source I'm questioning is different from the power conversion/storage/transmission methods you note. Also, aren't RFID tags powered by electrical induction, not filaments?

In a related story... (3, Insightful)

jbum (121617) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009490)


Burbank, CA - The CRP (Center for Responsible Predictions) reports that articles
about nanotechnology (especially ones that mention Neil Stephenson and/or Eric Drexler)
will "almost certainly" contain over-optimistic estimates of the arrival of nanoassemblers.
In short, these claims will be far enough in the future to protect the prognosticators
from immediate ridicule, while still appearing chillingly close.

Related story: A Conveyor Belt for the Nano-Age (3, Informative)

anzha (138288) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009628)

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab [lbl.gov] has come up with a proof of concept nanotech conveyor belt. When an electrical current is applied, a carbon nanotube acts as a conveyor with Iridium atoms. They are moved up and down the tube without losing a single one. Read more here [lbl.gov] .

A step closure to that assembler. :D

I for one... (0)

enrico_suave (179651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009492)

I for one welcome our DeBeers overlords...

actually on second thought... no, no I don't... I sure hope synthetic diamond making catches on and that diamond prices finally come down to reality.

e.

Software Assembler? (5, Interesting)

PoPRawkZ (694140) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009500)

How exactly does one write code for the placement of billions of molecules? Is it algorithmic or a huge array?

I've always wondered... (4, Insightful)

IncarnadineConor (457458) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009506)

It seems like these days someone manages to predict all the new tech before it comes out. Has it always been this way? Did people see the atom bomb coming before it did? Because I have to say, this prediction thing is really taking the fun out of everything. Rather then being plesantly suprised by new things I am just pissed that I can't buy stuff I'm reading about.

They said all the same things about... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009514)

...the pointed stick.

I, for one, welcome our gooey gray overlords. Anything that doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

this just in - (2, Insightful)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009515)

by 2001, we'll have a giant spaceship with a mental-case AI on board named HAL. It will be cool. By 2010, there will be big babies floating around jupiter (or where ever it was...sorry, its been a long while).

Really though, everything is going to cause the end of the world within 20 years these days. Did you know 15% of the world's methane comes from cow farts? And that methane is one of the worst greenhouse gases? And as Al Gore said back in the early 70's, we'll be dead by the late 90's if we don't stop driving cars. And everyone wants to blow everyone up nowadays anyway, so...screw it. Have a drink, sit back, get yourself a pretty friend, and get a perspective that takes things from scary to amusing.

Re:this just in - (1)

CMRichar (610129) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009711)

... get yourself a pretty friend...

Look, this is slashdot, so you'll have to scale it down a bit. unless you're already female, then you can talk pretty friend...

Questions About the Source (1)

da' WINS pimp (213867) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009516)

No not the "Source", the source of this article. They say in their FAQ:

"What is your source of funding?

Got any ideas?? Seriously..."


That noted I can't wait to install Linux on my new matter compiler and go to work on some serious hardware using my pirate material templates.

Re:Questions About the Source (1)

Stile 65 (722451) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009712)

Pirate material templates? Why not open-source? :)

If they've got open-source genetic sequences [mit.edu] , why not material templates and physical product designs?

This is where I see true benefit beginning to happen.

Cool! (2, Funny)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009518)

Could I get one of those nanofactories installed in my flying car?

Re:Cool! (1)

penultimatepost (597514) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009603)

Not now, but from the article, you could use it to build it!

Re:Cool! (1)

grahams (5366) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009619)

If you do, you could use it to build a videophone, so you could call your grandmother on the other coast.

Ain't gonna happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009526)

been there. time travel was invented first. then the planet was destroyed from pollution and propagation of genetically altered plants (which evolved in generically altered insects which had their own viruses who killed all non-mutated life forms). From the piles of trash, plastic-worms kinds of life evolved who ate everything plastic and petroleum in their way. they ate many ill mutants. the skies rained fire. the aliens dropped bombs. the machines got intelligence and started a war against each other (the worst enemi of a computer is another computer). the earth opened and lava and beasts emerged and started eating each other and doing horrible mosterisities. flood. All these happened but NOT nano technology with diamonds.

Copyright? (5, Insightful)

hanssprudel (323035) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009528)

The promise of nano-manufacturing puts into perspective a lot of the issues we face with copyright of information today. Will the motor companies become the next RIAA when it is possible to make a perfect copy of any car? What will Coca-Cola say when I can nano-replicate coke from water and hydrocarbons?

I can almost imagine a future a where we could have unlimited resources, but the necessary machines are forced by law to be user hostile monsters extorting fees from the user anytime something they make comes close to a perpetually copyrighted object.

Or will people finally realize that when the means of production are endless, human means of invention drive themselves?

Re:Copyright? (2, Insightful)

Zanek (546281) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009698)

If that happens then you'll see Zero-day cracks of the Pepsi-Nano-fabricator released on the galactical interweb, and the like.
There will always be those who try to limit, and those who try to make things limitless.

holy crap (1)

BReflection (736785) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009532)

Does anyone else feel like its the end of the world after reading that article?

They certainly don't... (1)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009533)

They certainly don't suffer from any lack of ambition!!! goodness... :)

Ben Bova's scenario (2, Informative)

Ra5pu7in (603513) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009542)

Riots on earth and complete banning of nanotechnology when it is learned by the masses that it is possible to engineer them to harm humans. Of course, on the up-side was improving the ability of humans to withstand more natural threats.

Problem solved. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009552)

will solve many of the world's problems

kill each other when it arrives

Now there's a drastic way to solve this world's problems.

This sucks (1, Funny)

drsmack1 (698392) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009560)

I dropped my entire life savings into Jupiter mining rights - now I am totally screwed! http://www.astronomycafe.net/qadir/q2270.html

The Forbidden Diamond Planet (2, Offtopic)

Featureless (599963) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009562)

Fascinating that this movie [imdb.com] should become so topical again.

Dr. Edward Morbius: In times long past, this planet was the home of a mighty, noble race of beings who called themselves the Krel. Ethically and technologically they were a million years ahead of humankind, for in unlocking the meaning of nature they had conquered even their baser selves, and when in the course of eons they had abolished sickness and insanity, crime and all injustice, they turned, still in high benevolence, upwards towards space. Then, having reached the heights, this all-but-divine race disappeared in a single night, and nothing was preserved above ground.

(I'd hate to give away the ending, but it's extremely relevant to this story! Rent it and see for yourself!)

Various groups are responding... (5, Funny)

stienman (51024) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009566)

In short they claim that molecular nanotechnology manufacturing will solve many of the world's problems, catalyze a technologic revolution, and start the greatest arms race we've ever seen. They conclude the risks are so great that we should discuss how to deal with this technology so that we don't kill each other when it arrives.

Politicians: Yay. More legislative work means we'll forever be yammering about stuff.

Missionaries: Yay. End world hunger. I can go home and stop building bridges.

Eco-groupies: Boo. This will destroy the environment.

Engineers: Screw the consequences, I want ot play with one! Less talk, more tech!

Your Rights Online Whiners: We have to pass laws NOW about this technology. Because there's nothing like an archiac law for a technology we can't understand the ramifications of until it's been used for many years.

Console Junkies: Wha...? Can this wait? I'm almost through to the boss...

Babies: YES! With this power I alone will rul - WAAAAAAAAIMHUNGRYAAAAAAAA!

-Adam

never happen.... (5, Insightful)

isotope23 (210590) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009571)

This will never happen period.

Why?

Because of the tremendous shift in social power such a device would create. If you think the MPAA and RIAA are bad, imagine the stance of the entire corporate world to these devices being in the hands of consumers.

Not to mention the fear this ability would create within government circles.

P2P (5, Interesting)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009594)

One of the issues I see being a BIG deal in the future when we have these is copyright. What if in the future its not just songs and movies you can trade on p2p, but schematics and design plans for a mercedes. You download the file, print it in your molecular 3D printer, and BAM, instant (well, maybe not instant) Mercedes, probably for a fraction of the cost.

If you think its been bad with the RIAA and MPAA going after people, wait until you see GE, GM, Daimler-Chrysler, pharma companies, etc. start to take action when people are duplicating their products for a fraction of the cost without them getting a single cent for it.

I personally think this is great, as it would put many things within reach of people who would never have had a chance of ever being able to afford those things, but the ethical issues are the same as they are today, only perhaps escalated due to the increased value of the things you could duplicate.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9009637)

we got closer it only turned out to be the cubic zirconium age approaching.

The Seed (1)

chochos (700687) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009638)

If they already know what's gonna happen and how it's all gonna end, then why don't they just skip the Feed scheme and start working directly on the Seed?
or maybe they know what happens in the sequel, when the bad guys start developing weapons with the Seed...

Diamond life? Thanks a lot Cmdr (2, Funny)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009662)

Thanks a lot, Cmdr. Now I can't get that Sade song out of my head:

Diamond life, lover boy.
We move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy.
He's a smooth opewata,
smooth opewata,
smooth opewata,
smooth opewata.

The Post-Industrial Revolution (4, Interesting)

freejung (624389) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009669)

The dangers of this technology are real, and definitely worth discussing. However, what is most interesting to me, and perhaps to others who were not terribly thrilled about the industrial revolution, is a potential benefit which is somewhat overlooked.

The article talks about how a suitcase of equipment could create a village-sized industrial revolution. But this technology is, at least potentially, post-industrial. That is to say, it can be used on the small scale, making advanced technology available in a way which is independent of big corporations and large-scale manufacturing facilities. This is a huge thing.

If it is allowed to develop along these lines, it will mean the restructuring of our entire society, in a way which I and many others have been waiting and hoping for for some time now. It will mean we can have our cake and eat it too: we get all the benefits of advanced technology, without all the horrible detriments of the hegemony of megacorps. Whohoo!

Unfortunately, I doubt this will be allowed to happen, at least not at first. Here's a prediction: as soon as this becomes imminant, we will see the massive implementation of extremely restrictive measures to control it. These will be adopted in the name of security, but incidentally they will also have the effect of making it virtually impossible to use this technology independently, without relying on megacorporate support. This will probably mean continued widespread poverty in the third world, but we will accept it out of fear.

But at least the potential will be there.

On a completely unrelated note: most human-scale products would consist almost entirely of empty space

Actually, to be precise, everything consists almost entirely of empty space. "The solid parts of this rock, the neutrons, quarks, protons and electrons, compose only one quadrillianth of its total volume... you could pulverize that mountain and sift through it like breadcrumbs for the rest of your natural life, and you would never, ever, find... this!" --Buccaroo Banzai.

A great start.. (1)

kulakovich (580584) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009694)


If we start by limiting distribution of the relevent technologies to only me, then I will take care of it.

Promise!

kulakovich

Energy requirements, among other things... (5, Informative)

addie (470476) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009705)

First of all, I'd like to point out the article doesn't make any mention of the substantive amount of energy one of these molecular assemblers would undoubtedly require. If I understand the science even remotely, will it not take energy to break and form atomic bonds that are not naturally occuring? I understand chemical means can be used, but those chemicals need to be manufactured as well. Ignoring such a huge part of the problem doesn't give this article much credibility. Does it matter how far we push technology if we don't have the means to power it?

Aside from that, I can't say I'm overly impressed by the source of the article. The CRN FAQ [crnano.org] doesn't inspire much confidence. The two directors have a single undergrad degree between them. I appreciate their enthusiasm in promoting the discussion of nanotechnology and its implications, but I think I'd take it a bit more seriously from a more credible source.

It was an interesting read, but sounded more like wishful thinking from a sci-fi fan than from someone who has a grasp of all the issues that factor into such a huge leap forward for technology.

And this is different how...? (5, Insightful)

stienman (51024) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009707)

we should discuss how to deal with this technology so that we don't kill each other when it arrives.

Are they implying that we don't kill each other now with current technologies? Or are they saying that the technology alone will turn average homo sapiens into blood thirsty murderers?

Where's all the dicussion about how this technology could reduce current stress?

Our economy, and wealth, is currently based on a system of scarcity. When you can take raw molecules and arbitraily combine them into useful/necessary/life saving objects then scarcity dissipates. Many, if not most, of today's conflicts revolve around scarcity or perceived scarcity.

I say bring it on. The consequences will sort themselves out as they always have upon previous technology.

Think about how many in the previous world viewed modern health care as cheating darwinism/survival of the fittest and that the resulting overpopulation of lesser fitted humans would be catastrophic. Can you say now whether they were right or wrong? Can you believe they would have made the correct choice if they could have caused researchers to halt experiments on such common materials as antibiotics?

-Adam

Deal with it the same way we always do. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009736)

Give certain people the right and duty to kill the people who kill people without the right or duty to do it. And make doing it accidentally illegal, too.

Then we won't use it unless safety is built in.

20 Years? (1)

filtur (724994) | more than 10 years ago | (#9009750)

Dangerous Nano-Technology? It's a good thing we have presidential term limits.
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