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The Future of Nanobiotech Predicted

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the molecular-deconstruction-deconstructed dept.

Biotech 130

Quadraginta writes "Aharon Hauptman and Yair Sharan of the Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis and Forecasting (ICTAF) at Tel Aviv University recently presented the results of a survey of 139 researchers on the future of nanobiotech. The presentation itself is only available as a PDF file, but there is a brief news announcement from the ICTAF. Interestingly, Hauptman and Sharan asked for -- and got -- specific predictions from the experts of the year in which various nanotech marvels will appear. For example, the experts say we can look forward to biosensors capable of detecting a single molecule by 2015, the direct construction of artificial human organs by 2020, and the use of nanomachines inside the body for diagnosis and therapy by 2025."

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oxymoron (-1, Redundant)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462067)

NanoBiotech? All Bio starts at the nano. Even the largest megafauna or the smallest single celled organism or even the alledged nanonbe subsceeluar oranisms arr composted of componenets that are self assembing entitities. This goes on right down to single proteins which are self assembling. All bio is at the nano-level. Might as well call is BaNanoTech.

Re:oxymoron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462112)

I deciphered the above to: NanoBiotech? All Bio starts at the nano. Even the largest megafauna or the smallest single celled organism or even the alledged nanobe subcellular organisms are composited of componenents that are self assembling entitities. This goes on right down to single proteins which are self assembling. All bio is at the nano-level. Might as well call is BaNanoTech.

Re:oxymoron (-1, Offtopic)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462226)

Hey, it's 4 am. give me a break.

Re:oxymoron (3, Insightful)

MaelstromX (739241) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462116)

NanoBiotech? All Bio starts at the nano. Even the largest megafauna or the smallest single celled organism or even the alledged nanonbe subsceeluar oranisms arr composted of componenets that are self assembing entitities. This goes on right down to single proteins which are self assembling. All bio is at the nano-level. Might as well call is BaNanoTech.

Congrats on the semi-relevant FP but what's your point? This is about technology, not natural processes. The word "Nanobiotech" is to distinguish from traditional "biotech", and it refers to things such as the molecular-scale biosensors in the summary.

Re:oxymoron (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462220)

No it refers to the plan for biologists to tap into a new buzz phrase compliant source of funding now that biotech has worn off. I'm totally serious. Where I work, molecular biologists aren't really welcome to talk about things like protein folding or RNA structure modeling, or cellular structure or enzyme catalyis--the ultimate nanotechnology--for this very reason. The Nanotech guys are afraid to see their pot o gold diverted.

Re:oxymoron (2, Insightful)

Dr. GeneMachine (720233) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462470)

Uhm... where the hell are you working? I mean, what is left for a molecular biologist to talk about, if you exclude these topics? This is the very core of structural biology - and a lively topic of discussion and speculation where I work.
You know, not all science is about funding and buzzwords. To be honest, I am getting somewhat tired about this argument, which seems to be constantly reiterated on Slashdot. Molecular biology, as I experience it, is a very dynamic field full of people pursuing topics out of interest, not because they chase after grant money.

Re:oxymoron (0)

BelugaParty (684507) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462685)

Thank you.

Re:oxymoron (1)

Liam Slider (908600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463072)

Actually, nanobiotech is all about building nanomachines using parts derived from biological "machines" that already exist....but doing so in such a way that the new machines themselves are clearly not biological. It's really a stepping stone to the "harder" nanotech...since we have to do less figuring out about the actual parts to use.

The truth about CowboyNeal (1)

Fecal Troll Matter (445929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462294)

To raise hotheaded hooligans out of their cultural misery and lead them to the national community as a valuable, united factor, we need to begin with a frank acknowledgment of the basic humanness of each of us. And we must acknowledge that there are lessons to be learned from history. For practical reasons, I have to confine my discussion to areas that have received insufficient public attention or in which I have something new to say. I'm sure CowboyNeal wouldn't want me to eavesdrop on his conversations. So why does he want to reap a whirlwind of destroyed marriages, damaged children, and, quite possibly, a globe-wide expression of incurable sexually transmitted diseases? You know the answer, don't you? You probably also know that we can't stop him overnight. It takes time, patience and experience to present a clear picture of what is happening, what has happened, and what is likely to happen in the future. The only weapons he has in his intellectual arsenal are book burning, brainwashing, and intimidation. That's all he has, and he knows it. If you want to hide something from CowboyNeal, you just have to put it in a book.

If CowboyNeal's practices aren't unrestrained, I don't know what is. What does this mean for our future? For one thing, it means that CowboyNeal's intent is to prevent us from asking questions. He doesn't want the details checked. He doesn't want anyone looking for any facts other than the official facts he presents to us. I wonder if this is because most of his "facts" are false.

Before explaining why unprofessional insurrectionists cause insurmountable trouble for us, I must first carry out the famous French admonition, écrasez l'infâme!, against CowboyNeal's refrains. These types of virulent poltroons should be dealt with immediately. It follows from this that he ignores a breathtaking number of facts, most notably:

Fact: He is the most blatant enemy of peace, stability, and human progress the world has ever seen.

Fact: He often compares himself to Jesus, usually on the grounds that I'm trying to crucify CowboyNeal for speaking the truth.

Fact: CowboyNeal's beliefs (as I would certainly not call them logically reasoned arguments) have led to date rape, domestic violence, pornography, and other social ills.

In addition, CowboyNeal's a pretty good liar most of the time. However, he tells so many lies, he's bound to trip himself up someday. On a completely different tack, one of CowboyNeal's favorite tricks is to create a problem and then to offer the solution. Naturally, it's always his solutions that grant him the freedom to prevent me from getting my work done, never the original problem. CowboyNeal likes to brag about how the members of his little empire are ideologically diverse. Perhaps that means that some of them prefer Stalin over Hitler. In any case, I overheard one of CowboyNeal's forces, who are legion, say, "Ethical responsibility is merely a trammel of earthbound mortals and should not be required of a demigod like CowboyNeal." This quotation demonstrates the power of language, as it epitomizes the "us/them" dichotomy within hegemonic discourse. As for me, I prefer to use language to stand as a witness in the divine court of the eternal judge and proclaim that irritable vendors of propagandism tend to dismiss reason, science, and objective reality. He keeps insisting that all it takes to solve our social woes are shotgun marriages, heavy-handed divorce laws, and a return to some mythical 1950s Shangri-la. To me, there is something fundamentally wrong with that story. Maybe it's that my current plan is to help people break free of CowboyNeal's cycle of oppression. Yes, he will draw upon the most powerful fires of Hell to tear that plan asunder, but he says that space aliens are out to lay eggs in our innards or ooze their alien hell-slime all over us. This is noxious falsehood. The truth is that I no longer believe that trends like family breakdown, promiscuity, and violence are random events. Not only are they explicitly glorified and promoted by CowboyNeal's randy, rebarbative policies, but my goal is to name and shame his collaborators for their huffy acts of fanaticism. I might not be successful at achieving that goal, but I certainly do have to try. CowboyNeal's hirelings are more determined than most pretentious, flagitious scrubs. That's all I have to say. Thank you for reading this post.

Re:oxymoron (2, Funny)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463374)

You're wrong, you know.
We're all composed of atoms, so clearly all matter interaction should be studied as quantum physics, but clearly that's wrong too, since matter is just condensed energy.
We all of life - from going to the drive-through at McDonalds to contemplating the meaning of life - is just energy interacting with energy. Clearly, we must always keep this in mind. Anyone who is not considering that all of their activities are actually quantum-mechanical energy interactions is missing what's Really Important, and only thinking about the non-essential parts of things.

Or, perhaps, there is some value at looking at things from the macro level. Wouldn't you say that the biological fields of medicine (most of it), plant breeding (most of it), animal breeding (most of it) have some merit?

These have little consideration of bionano, just as all of life isn't concerned with quantum-mechanical energy interactions, even if it is the stuff of all things.

lol jews (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462071)

fp :)

It will have small beginings.. (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462073)

.. and gradually scale back.

Terminator is here (-1, Offtopic)

broothal (186066) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462075)

"Living, self reparing abilities in artificial systems" by 2025, and only a 20% chance of this never happening.

I, for one, welcome our new super robot... ah - never mind

10, 15, 20 years away? (4, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462088)

Artificial intelligence, i.e. thinking machines, are always about 10 years away. They have been for years.

Wait, that was a good analogy.

Re:10, 15, 20 years away? (2, Interesting)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462203)

Artificial intelligence, i.e. thinking machines, are always about 10 years away. They have been for years.

That's not quite true. AI used to be always 50 years away. Not that that means much, of course. I believe we still have no idea what it is we're actually looking for, and keep redefining it (people used to think that a computer playing chess would be AI).

The speed of innovation is increasing all the time, so our feeling of "some time in the future" is getting shorter. In ten years AI will probably be always "just after next weekend", and no closer than ever...

But yeah, it's a good analogy. Nowadays we build things at nano-scale (materials), but as long as it's not actual grey goo it'll be called "not real nano-tech".

Re:10, 15, 20 years away? (1)

Troed (102527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462228)

I'd say the best chance we have to get true AI is to build quantum computers. Constant creation of wavestates and the spontaneus collapse due to gravity will generate a flurry of "thoughts" - and by learning the successful ones will eventuelly be "stored" using neural networks.

That's one of the theories behind how the human brain works, and it's the "randomness" in it that I feel is sorely lacking from current static neural network thinking.

More info: link [quantumconsciousness.org]

Re:10, 15, 20 years away? (5, Insightful)

Scarblac (122480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462246)

I don't agree at all. Human brains work by neurons firing in specific patterns, in specific ways, in extremely huge numbers and with complicated interneuron connections. There is no quick fix to knowing how the brain works, since it's not a simple thing.

That said, even if the brain relied on some quantum effect, I find the idea that just building something completely different that also relies on a quantum effect (a quantum computer) and just letting it run (doing what?) to be pretty bizarre.

The main problem to solving "true AI" remains _defining true AI_. You can't solve a problem if nobody can say what the actual problem is.

It is about processor power too. (2, Interesting)

ansible (9585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462321)

Yup, we have to understand better how minds work. Or at least enough to make a copy of them.

And then we also need the processor power equal to that of the brain too. It could well be argued that the Internet crossed that line quite some time ago. But the structure of the Internet is not even close to mind-like. Though there are possibilities...

At any rate, what gets interesting is that we've just recently crossed that same line with "single" entities like the IBM BlueGene supercomputer cluster. We'll probably have a dozen of those online by next year, and hundreds of more powerful ones in five years.

So now we really are waiting for the software. We've also got other advantages compared to what researchers 20 - 30 years ago had. Between Wikipedia and Google, we are in the process of digitizing a large percentage of human knowledge. And Wikipedia can provide a good top-level index into that knowledge.

Next it is a (highly non-trivial) task to improve the ability to map natural language into symbols accurately. Or maybe we can sucker people across the Internet into doing the mapping for us (Tom Sawyer fence painting) by making it fun somehow.

Re:10, 15, 20 years away? (1)

JChung2006 (894379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462670)

It would be ironic and amusing if it turned out that, after all, artificial intelligence wasn't nearly as difficult a problem to solve as folks like Scarbrac thought and that the only reason that it took us so long to solve was because we desperately wanted to hold onto the notion that intelligence was a hard thing to recreate.

Re:10, 15, 20 years away? (2, Interesting)

Todrael (601100) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462695)

People are already trying to solve this problem. They're working to create Friendly AI, not through technology, but through definition of the human brain and our thought processes. Check out some of their work at: http://www.singinst.org/ [singinst.org]

If they succeed, they hope to create a Singularity, a point at which we have no ability to predict what lay beyond, sheerly due to the intelligences involved.

Re:10, 15, 20 years away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462717)

The main problem to solving "true AI" remains _defining true AI_.

Ok, then let me define "true AI":

True AI is a computer that can pass the Turing test.

Now that the main problem is out of the way, can you please build such a computer?

Glad to be of help!

Re:10, 15, 20 years away? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463608)

there are PEOPLE who can't pass the Turing test.

Defining AI (1)

Auraiken (862386) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463937)

I doubt we'll ever have real artificial intelligence anytime soon, if we're smart enough anyways. Mostly because to create a real AI, you need to give it a purpose or reason to survive... think about how life itself works in general. Survival instincts precipitate change. If we do indeed create real AI, it might turn into something out of the matrix. Just we won't be living in some silly dreamworld. We'll probably just cease to exist because we're horribly inefficient anyways.

Re:Defining AI (1)

trajik2600 (944364) | more than 8 years ago | (#14464050)

You said it yourself. Survival *instinct*. Instincts are creature-specific, and environmentally defined. They don't define or require much intelligence. It is a trait of self-awareness. People have survival instincts because they know without certain things they will perish. A computer requires power, and software.

Artificial intelligence already exists. It will become *actual* intelligence when it can program and reprogram itself.

~Trajik

I think I disagree (4, Interesting)

Ogemaniac (841129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462282)

The speed of innovation is increasing all the time

As a "nano" researcher myself, I have started to almost think the tide is turning the other way. We have lots of momentum, but I no longer think we are accelerating.

Of course, it all depends on your measure. If you just count number of journal pages printed, or number of scientists researching, things seem hunky-dory. However, if you multiply that by the value of that information, it shrinks substantially. Science has become exceptionally incremental, and we are advancing via zerg-style attack rather than leaps and bounds.

At least from my position here on the inside, I feel that these estimates are quite optimistic.

Re:I think I disagree (1)

$rtbl_this (584653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462318)

...it shrinks substantially.

I thought that was the point. :)

Naah, I am a chemist (1)

Ogemaniac (841129) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462585)

We grow nano machines.

Darned engineers got it all backwards.

Re:I think I disagree (2, Interesting)

ace1317 (905398) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462675)

I'm also a "nano" researcher, and while I agree that alot of the recent papers havent been huge advances, the fact that characterization methods are very limited at this scale makes it important to learn techniques that work wonderfully as well as those that work minimally at best. Molecular biosensing happens to be my field, and I have no trouble believing that we'll be able to detect single molecules by 2015. Hell, we can currently detect a handful of DNA molecules and distinguish them from other oligos that are 1-base mismatches. It may take less than 10 years for certain types of biomolecules.

Re:I think I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462781)

The speed of innovation is increasing all the time
As a "nano" researcher myself, I have started to almost think the tide is turning the other way. We have lots of momentum, but I no longer think we are accelerating.
you are both wrong because you are in a non-inertial system (biased with your involvement) :-) . From where I am standing(IANA nanobiologist, engineer, or researcher; I am nobody from the street), the ratio of human curiosity per person is constant just like God (or Einstein) intended it.

What shrunk is the time it takes to put useful research into final product(using, again, technology to do that). Obviously, the more research you have, the shorter that time. I call it (and I coin and copyright the phrase, remember you heard it here first) the time-to-market dilation effect(TM)(R)(C).

Re:I think I disagree (4, Insightful)

Shihar (153932) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463964)

I too work in nanotechnology. In fact, the company I work for just kicked out their first product, a carbon nanotubes based memory cell. I completely disagree with you. I think we are moving forward at a blistering pace that is just getting faster.

I suggest holding onto your ass, as pharmaceutical companies are about to start blasting new useful products. You need to remember that what we see in a lot of industries is on a time lag. It takes a bare minimum of 10-15 years to create a drug from scratch and get it through the FDA. Think about that for a moment. The drugs being released today come from before the Internet was being widely used. The fruits of these efforts are already starting to become clear. My father for instance probably just tacked an extra 10-20 years onto his life with new cholesterol lowering drug. Things are only going to get better.

Everything is shrinking at an accelerated rate. The amount of information that we have access to is expanding exponentially. As a culture, we are so used to change that we are utterly blind to it when it happens. 5 years ago I knew only one or two people with cell phones, and those people rarely used them. I recall having friends who swore they would never own one of those damn things.

Just the other day I ran into the first person I have met in the past year under the age of 50 who doesn't own a cell phone. This guy came to a gathering of about a dozen people that I was throwing. We were crowded in my living room when someone asked what his cell phone number was so they could coordinate meeting up the next day. The guy said he didn't own a cell phone. That statement brought conversation in the room to a dead stop. The group then spent a few minutes trying to figure out how in the hell you coordinate meeting at a park if you can't use a cell phone. In this group, there were people that just 5 years ago swore they would never use a cell phone. Now, they have to struggle to remember how meet up with someone without using a cell phone.

As a culture we are desensitized to change. We don't suffer from 'future shock' as some futurist thought we would. As new things come we roll with it very well. Show a guy from 1990 the year 2006, and he would be awed. True, we don't have floating cars or cool looking buildings. A city street today looks roughly like a city street from 15 years ago. What a person from 1990 WOULD notice right away is the fact that everyone owns a cell phone. They would be blown away by how trivial it is to get knowledge simply by using the Internet. The speed and power of our computers, or games, and our MP3 players would be unlike anything they could have imagined possible. They would recognize that socially technology is changing how we interact at a blistering rate.

Things are accelerating very quickly. There might be a limit or a set of breaks out there somewhere, but it sure as hell isn't in sight right now. The best is without a doubt yet to come.

Re:10, 15, 20 years away? (-1, Offtopic)

jonnosan (300963) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462205)

Wait, that was a good analogy

No, this [daimenhutchison.com] is a good analogy.

Re:10, 15, 20 years away? (1)

Westgate (588036) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462259)

and on a related note - Wheres my jetpack/flying car, its the 21st centuary dammit and in the 70's they promised!

Re:10, 15, 20 years away? (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462374)

We didnt't have Google with container cluster nodes back then. :D

Flat-screen TVs are just 10 years away! (1)

Traf-O-Data-Hater (858971) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462406)

...oh... wait

I've always wondered (5, Insightful)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462123)

Why do we humans keep trying to predict our technological future? So-called (and self-proclaimed) experts have been trying for decades, and they aren't doing much better than psychics. Or are there wildly successful visionaries with high accuracy of whose publications we are now unaware? I'd love to see a discussion of futurists' predictions that HAVE been surprisingly accurate.

It seems pointless to make specific predictions, such as Technology X in Year Y. Might it not be better to simply steer our unwieldy technology, as well as we can, in a generally sensible direction?

Re:I've always wondered (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462149)

Nostradamus [wikipedia.org] ;)

Re:I've always wondered (4, Insightful)

TallMatthew (919136) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462173)

Why do we humans keep trying to predict our technological future?

Funding.

Re:I've always wondered (1)

catahoula10 (944094) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462395)

"Funding."

Exactly.

Re:I've always wondered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462289)

I predict in 20 years these predictions will start to be more accurate.

Re:I've always wondered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462310)

moore's law seems to have held moreorless, so that is one.

Re:I've always wondered (2, Insightful)

adtifyj (868717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462323)

SciFi writers have been very good at predicting human advancement.

I suspect this is because they research rather than speculate, and they believe in their predictions enough that they flesh them out by writing detailed descriptions of what life would be like after their predictions come true.

Re:I've always wondered (3, Insightful)

tehdaemon (753808) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462346)

" SciFi writers have been very good at predicting human advancement.

Agreed. However they do not seem at all good at predicting the when as well as the what. They have 'tech X' but not the 'year Y' part.

Self-fulfilling prophecy? (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463024)

But aren't scientists often inspired by Science Fiction?

Re:I've always wondered (1)

DahCheet (945073) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463046)

SciFi writers have been very good at predicting human advancement.

It's because their loyal followers with super-huge brains have nothing better to do than try and create the tools of the future. Think about a little kid recreating a fight scene they saw on TV. They think it's cool and want to reenact so they can be cool.

Re:I've always wondered (2, Insightful)

kabanossen (227003) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462326)

Predictions are tools of perception. People use predictions to better understand phenomena and to create better goals and plans.
Predictions are ideas so they affect people's thinking; they give us new ideas, new perspectives and insights.
The gap between ideas and technology is continuously narrowing and that makes predictions about our technological future more and more like inventions.

Re:I've always wondered (2, Interesting)

PietjeJantje (917584) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462372)

I've always been interested in futurologists. It started as a kid, when they spew ideal worlds with flying cars and such. A.k.a. The Jetsons period. Soon afterwards, I started realizing it was all crap, and started using them as a source of entertainment as to this day. It makes a great laugh every now and then. If a futurologist predicts something, as a rule of thumb I'd say it won't, still, they tend to take themselves very serious.

However, so far I've seen two 'predictions' that are worthwhile:
- The partly self-fullfilling prophecy the books by William Gibson (Neuromancer, etc.); Not only is he spot on most of the time, what is scary is that while he issues many warnings, mostly the "coolness" was remembered and used, resulting in the opposite effect, starting with termonology: words like cyberspace, matrix and the Net originate from these books. Funnily, I like the books now mostly on other levels.

- The concept of technological singularity. Hey, they almost spoil it with stuff like http://www.singularitywatch.com/spiral.html [singularitywatch.com] but the effect in history cannot be denied.

Re:I've always wondered (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462448)

Why do we humans keep trying to predict our technological future?

It's a precise combination of slow news days and journalistic deadlines.

Re:I've always wondered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462537)

Why do we humans keep trying to predict our technological future?

I predict that humans will stop to predict out technological future in 17 years

Re:I've always wondered (1)

damneinstien (939730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462563)

But doesn't "making predictions" sort of lead technology in a particular direction? If the article talks about replacement organs being available by 2020, wouldn't it make some scientist think to perhaps research that possibility?

Re:I've always wondered (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462759)

It is useful for knowing where to spread the money and resources. Alot of futurists are good at what they do (one of the best is Ray Kurzweil whose accuracy you can even check by reading "The Age of Intelligent Machines" which was writting in the mid 80's and was surprisingly accurate. This is why many large firms use him as a consultant. He's written a few more books since then and are all pretty decent) You only typically hear about ridiculous and wild speculation because its good for headlines or its amusing to laugh at a generation from 5 decades ago, but there are plenty of people out there being very accurate. You underestimate it all.
Regards,
Steve

Re:I've always wondered (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463033)

Why do we humans keep trying to predict our technological future?

Because it's fun, and usually our best educated guesses are wrong a good chuck of the time.

Re:I've always wondered (1)

sgtrock (191182) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463044)

I'd love to see a discussion of futurists' predictions that HAVE been surprisingly accurate.


I would suggest reading Alvin Toffler's _Future_Shock_ (1970) and _The_Third_Wave_ (1980). Still the best two texts that I've ever read for understanding how technology is affecting how society changes. The overall view represented by these two books is fairly accurate. Naturally, he didn't get all the details right. Still, well worth a read.

Future Shock (1)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14464172)

But IIRC Toffler's Future Shock completely missed out on the forthcoming new means of communication (such as the Internet) and the radically different ways we interact nowadays. Been awhile since I reread, but it seemed like an extrapolation of 1960s life with the only difference being acceleration of industrial change.

We need a new Future Shock for this new century, which can be snapshot periodically (for posterity) and updated regularly as technology allows.
Er, maybe that's now called a wiki.

/digs out paperback Toffler

Re:I've always wondered (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463051)

Jules Verne is one example of somebody who did pretty damn well. I'm sure there are others. I do agree to some extent though that any "foresight" is kind of pointless, since our species seems more reactive that proactive, in general and individually.

Re:I've always wondered (1)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463440)

John Brunner predicted event futures markets, ubiquitous computer networks and network worms in his 1975 novel The Shockwave Rider [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I've always wondered (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14463521)

Aldus Huxley comes to mind. George Orwell also had keen insight into where technology was going and how it would be abused. He was off by a couple decades, but accurate. I guess in predicting the future we just need to apply standard project management technique: take each time estimate and double or triple it.

Replacing medicines (2, Interesting)

poeidon1 (767457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462174)

Would it mean that I no longer have to take pills or injections for my medical problems?

Re:Replacing medicines (1)

BelugaParty (684507) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462662)

No. But inhalers might become more common.

Yes, but you might need firmware updates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14463764)

Occaisionally it may be necessary to upgrade the nanobots' virus definitions.

What about the gray death? (2, Interesting)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462202)

Deus Ex and Babylon 5 (Crusade) fans know what I'm talking about. That's not a wild fantasy either, if nano biotech ever takes off.

Re:What about the gray death? (1)

jurt1235 (834677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462328)

Add Greg Bear "Blood's music" to the list, and it also shows a bit of upside possibilities (however very unlikely).

Re:Gray death? Exclusive tech. (1)

shadowcode (852856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462385)

Well, I've only played Deus Ex but basically the scenario in the game wouldn't have happened if the nano-tech wasn't available to merely a single corporation in the entire world. Something which is unlikely to happen in the real world.




Or is it?....

No idea what we're talking about? (1)

shadowcode (852856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462396)

No idea what we're talking about?
Shame on you for never having played Deus Ex [wikipedia.org] ! Tsskt tsskt!

Re:No idea what we're talking about? (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462455)

Grey death is in deus ex 2, an arguably inferior sequel.

Re:No idea what we're talking about? (1)

Bralkein (685733) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463220)

What? Grey Death is in the original, it's what the whole game is about! For those who don't know, in Deus Ex, there is a plague sweeping America. The plague turns out not to be a naturally ocurring virus, it is actually a man-made nanomachine. The Grey Death is made by a secret group of conspirators, who also make a vaccine/treatment for the virus, called Ambrosia, which they use to control politicians in order to help achieve their dastardly aims.

It's somehow kind of scarily believeable, in a kind of nut-job conspiracy theory way. Although there are some pretty awesome technologies listed in the summary, I'd also be interested to see what evils the experts think could come about due to this new technology.

Re:No idea what we're talking about? (1)

shadowcode (852856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463235)

No, that was Gray Goo [wikipedia.org] , which, in fact, was only referred to in the game's intro. The game's plot itself was meager and was more about the factions and/or JC & Paul.

Gray Death [wikipedia.org] was Deus Ex (1).

Re:What about the gray death? (1)

NonSequor (230139) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462757)

It's not going to happen. This is from Wikipedia and it pretty much sums up my thoughts on the subject:

It is unclear whether the hypothetical molecular nanotechnology, if ever realized, would be capable of creating grey goo at all. Among other common refutations, theorists suggest that the very size of nanoparticles inhibits them from moving very quickly. While the biological matter that composes life releases significant amounts of energy when oxidised, and other sources of energy such as sunlight are available, this energy might not be sufficient for the putative nanorobots to out-compete existing organic life that already uses those resources, especially considering how much energy nanorobots would use for locomotion. If the nanomachine was itself composed of organic molecules, then it might even find itself being preyed upon by preexisting bacteria and other natural life forms. One convenient analogy for the grey goo problem is to consider bacteria as the most perfect example of biological nanotechnology; as they have not reduced the world to grey goo, it is unlikely that some artificial construct will manage to do so.

If nanorobots were built of inorganic compounds or made much use of elements that are not generally found in living matter, then they would need to use much of their metabolic output for fighting entropy as they purified (reduce sand to silicon, for instance) and synthesized the necessary building blocks. There would be little chemical energy available from inorganic matter such as rocks because, aside from a few exceptions (coal, for example) it's mostly well-oxidized and sitting in a free-energy minimum.

Looks like you're mixing things up (1)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462839)

What the OP refers to, IIRC, is a story element of the PC game Deus Ex. Gray Death is a disease. A cure exists, but it is monopolized by its creators, thus controlling the unwashed masses. It's all a big conspiracy involving the government and that corporation. "Gray Death" is less a story about the dangers of technology than about the possible dangers of power monopolies.

Spoiler (1)

ichigo 2.0 (900288) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463138)

In addition, the disease is actually artificial and created by the same corporation which makes the cure, which I guess is what the OP also was pointing to.

I predict... (4, Interesting)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462258)

I predict that this prediction will not happen.
Take that, biotech! Hahahaha!

On a serious note, I remember that episode of Ray Bradbury's Theater where a guy lied to have travelled in the future and saw all ecological issues solved, no wars, and no poverty.

And it indeed happened like this, because people believed themselves they could do it. And his time machine turned out to be just a mirror trick for the press.

We all need a shot of sci-fi in our blood to keep us motivated.

Re:I predict... (1)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462344)

Yeah. "Why care about the Nature? It will be solved eventually, so no harm done if I dump the sewage to the river and make extra 5% income on the savings."
Telling "It will work out in the future, somehow" is the best motivation-killer.

Re:I predict... (2, Insightful)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462381)

"Telling "It will work out in the future, somehow" is the best motivation-killer."

Well yea, but telling them "no matter what you do, somehow, you'll end up in a nuclear holocaust and highly toxic environment with lots of deadly mutation and deseases, the last surviving human societies will be a bunch of ruthless scavengers forced to canibalize their fellow buddies for survival, in the hope of slowing the their imminent doom" .. .. ain't a lot better motivation-wise.

Plus everytime someone predicts flying cars next year someone sits down and works on it for real. Some day, some year, someone will succeed, and we'll have flying cars! How cool would be that ?!

Re:I predict... (1)

DoctorMO (720244) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462438)

That would require very large magnets, so prepare for a car the size of a city.

Re:I predict... (1)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462445)

"That would require very large magnets, so prepare for a car the size of a city."

How about a magnet city that keeps my regular size car in the air. Hmm...

** PATENT PENDING **

Re:I predict... (1)

DoctorMO (720244) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462817)

Not a bad idea, but rails are the real future. systematic transport instead of running around like a 10Base2 Network. to be honest as humans become more centralised they're going to need to ditch the idea that everyone has a right to a car like device. sure it's extremely convenient but it's also immensely selfish. no surprise that the USA will moan the most then.

Re:I predict... (1)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463162)

"to be honest as humans become more centralised they're going to need to ditch the idea that everyone has a right to a car like device."

Well that's a phenomenon that is most obvious in USA. Over here (Bulgaria), I can say I never had the need for a car. The public transport is strong, the taxi is very cheap, and I can even walk (!!!) to reach some of the places I need to reach :).

Re:I predict... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463666)

Now that europe is unifying, I predict that their thinking about distance will be less parochial. The result will be a philosphy on cars not much different than the US.

Re:I predict... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462577)

The bad news is that we are doomed
  The good news is that we are all doomed.
    Please dont tell my kids.

Artificial human organs by 2020 (4, Funny)

Stan Vassilev (939229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462261)

"...artificial human organs by 2020...."

Ok dudes, we got 14 years until the replacements. With the right dosage of obesity, alcohol abuse and smoking, the replacements will be just in time for some of us.

Re:Artificial human organs by 2020 (1)

hexed_2050 (841538) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463617)

Funny. But sadly true.

Just how much will the first organs cost for the first 5-10 years though? $250,000 a piece?

I don't think the technology will be widely available for some time after it's initial implementation.

Re:Artificial human organs by 2020 (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463874)

"...artificial human organs by 2020...."

And a complete digital TV mandate by Congress set to go into effect in 2025...

Re:Artificial human organs by 2020 (1)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#14464230)

I sure hope so. I usually set my iPod pacemaker to 120 BPM as soon as I wash down the morning Vivarin with a couple of Red Bulls.

phatness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462322)

We're gonna spy on James Gentile with this shit, it'll be phat!

Breathing-in NanoTech (4, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462437)

One thing that is rarely discussed about nano-technology is the possible harm it could do to living organisms. If someone is ingesting nano-technology unwittingly through the air, water, or food, it is possible it could do great harm. Also, since it is almost impossible to see and track, what happens when it creates unintended harm? Who is held responsible and how do you clean it up?

That being said, I am for new technology and I am hoping nano-tech will be used in a responsible manner.

Re:Breathing-in NanoTech (1)

paulsgre (890463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462526)

"since it is almost impossible to see and track,"

One of the predictions is that we'll be able to detect single molecules in solution. That seems like pretty good tracking to me.

Re:Breathing-in NanoTech (1)

Peldor (639336) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462896)

I think you misinterpret the prediction. 'They' will be able to detect single molecules (with expensive and limited systems in an appropriate test environment). You and I will not. Which is the worrisome part for some when nanotechnology is mentioned.

Re:Breathing-in NanoTech (1)

paulsgre (890463) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463181)

I would think that the main concerns i.e. water supply, food, etc. would all be monitored under these "appropriate test environments". Public drinking water supplies are tested daily, i don't see why this would not be applicable to synthetic nanoparticles if indeed they are dangerous and released into the supply.

Re:Breathing-in NanoTech (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463476)

I would think that the main concerns i.e. water supply, food, etc. would all be monitored

Yes they are monitored, but what is the cost of cleaning them up? Huge.
It has been found that MTBE additives to gasoline have been leeching into water supplies all over the US, but they aren't too concerned about cleaning it up. (see epa.gov)

If a company creates a harm to the environment and noone fines them or shames them into cleaning it up, they most likely never will. Why do you think Google has a motto 'don't be evil?' It's not because companies are inherently always doing good.

Re:Breathing-in NanoTech (1)

amias (105819) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462573)

> That being said, I am for new technology and I am hoping
> nano-tech will be used in a responsible manner.

Just like we used all the other dangerous technologies we have
discovered recently ?
My concern is mostly about the humans that will end up controlling
it , we could use it safely but given humanities track record of
using technology to abuse each other this could be a bad move.

Whats the harm in going a little slower and making sure things are
safe and well thought out. I'm happy to wait .

Toodle-pip
Amias

Re:Breathing-in NanoTech (1)

GroeFaZ (850443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462764)

BS. The discussion is under full steam both in public and in science, and some believe it might become the next Frankenfood in terms of public backlash and rejection because of mostly uninformed hype in all directions (positive and negative). The reality is, nano-sized particles have been around since shortly after the creation of the universe, they are nothing fundamentally new, and anybody who claims otherwise is ignorant and/or a liar, erhm, needs to check his facts again. Think carbon nanotubes: Originally, they have been discovered in ordinary soot. This means, they have been existing at least since the first time organic matter burned up in flames and they were being inhaled by humans since humans have been sitting around fireplaces roasting marshmallows and pissing it out afterwards.

Newly designed particles which did not exist in nature or only in neglibile concentration obviously should require testing before they are used in products, i.e. released into the environment. However, you don't need new laws to ensure that or to sort out responsibilities if something goes wrong; it could be regulated like usual chemistry, because most of the time it is usual chemistry. Of course, if a certain country's legislature is somehow lobbied into effectively not creating or enforcing such laws, then you have a problem. But then again, in such a case you're having a far greater problem with your system anyway.

Re:Breathing-in NanoTech (1)

LnxAddct (679316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462772)

Those things are discussed all the time and there are thousands, if not tens of thousands, of proposals to fix issues like that (quite a few are pretty clever). Google scholar *might* find you some interesting results if you're interested.
Regards,
Steve

Re:Breathing-in NanoTech (1)

BelugaParty (684507) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462944)

Since combustion makes inhalable nano-scale molecules. Maybe it would help to imagine a bunch of destructive nano-machines pouring out of the tailpipe of a car, blanketing the streets of the city, you inhale as you walk from the parking lot to the office.

Now your questions doesn't seem new. In fact, it could boil down to the ongoing questions: what do we do with pollution? Who is responsible if pollution harms people?

Promises coming true (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462616)

At last we will have NanoFlying Cars , NanoColdFusion ,Nano

Add +25 years for Regulatory Issues (4, Insightful)

caesar-auf-nihil (513828) | more than 8 years ago | (#14462700)

Maybe the technological breakthroughs will occur in the predicted timelines, but if you tack on all the regulatory issues, one should really add an additional 25 years to the timelines. The great deal of uncertainty on how these nanoscale devices really affect health, as well as regulatory approval of such devices means just as much research to determine that nanobiotech is really ready for safe use. And let's face it - nanobiotech is basically a new term for molecular biology, and we continue to learn a great deal every day in that field, especially how hard it is to get things to work right at that level if we come up with it.

That being said - some countries may see this tech before others. I'm betting Singapore comes up with this type of technology first. If the regs are such that its more open to widespread use in that country or others, then maybe the timelines will only be 10-15 years off.

nanotechnology inside the body (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462818)

and the use of nanomachines inside the body for diagnosis and therapy by 2025.

This is welcome news for anyone who has had a sigmoidoscopy with the current "decitechnology"

Scientist tend to be to enthousiastic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14462957)

Positivism amongst scientists is not a rare fact, certainly not in a new and "sexy" field like bionanotechnology (in which field I'm active btw).

The fact is that the years of completion you see in this survey are the dates on which scientists assume the _scientific work_ will be done. Sadly this is the easy part, for something biotechnology related to be released for usage by the masses, a lot of aditional testing has to be done. In other words the product has to be approved for use by a variety of boards and governments. Getting a product through all these test and validation fases can easily take up more than 10 years (and a boatload of cash).

This might not be the case for nanocircuitry based on biopolymers, but it will certainly be the case for medical use of nanotechnology (building organs etc). In case of medical use, I think its safe to add 15 to 20 years to the predicted dates.

Grtz,

Wolf

Outer Limits Episode (1)

bmalia (583394) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463658)

Has anyone seen that Outer Limits episide where they have nano-technology and they use it on some guy to cure his cancer I think. As the episode goes on, the nanobots refused to let the man die through his many attempts at suicide, repairing stab wounds, burns etc. By the end of the episode, he had gills and and eyes on the back of his head.

Obligatory Wayne's World quote (2, Funny)

edunbar93 (141167) | more than 8 years ago | (#14463992)

"Shyeah, right, and I predict monkeys will fly out of my butt!"

I'm sure that it's just a matter of designing nanotechnology monkeys.

Welcome to the new order (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14464029)

We watch you with nanobots and talk about your thoughts out loud and we fit on CD.
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