Sunday, March 26, 2006

More steps along the way

If one thinks about this stuff much, one must inevitably ask, what is the pathway to get from here to there? Ordinarily when attacking a big complicated task, one partitions it into many small subtasks. Then you can draw a big diagram with little boxes connected by lines, the boxes representing subtasks and the lines representing dependencies between subtasks, what the project management weenies call a PERT chart. So where is the PERT chart for developing advanced molecular manufacturing?

Rob Freitas took a stab at one a couple years ago, aimed specifically at diamondoid systems. At the most recent Foresight conference, Drexler and Damian Allis presented work on a tooltip similar in appearance to those described by Freitas, and also intended for extracting and depositing individual atoms on a work surface. More or less simultaneously the Foresight Institute announced their plan to develop a technology roadmap to get us to "productive nanosystems", which is basically the nanofactory shown in the animation. From there it's a relatively small step to any other form of nanotechnology. The nanofactory is the preferred concept today because there is no conceivable way that it could get loose or mutate or go out of control, and people worry about such things.

The people doing Foresight's technology roadmap stuff are talking to people with money, so that might turn out to be interesting. There is also the work by Schafmeister and Rothemund. So it's a pretty interesting time.

No comments: