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NN: What is the concept of the roadmap?
The "Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems" will chart anticipated developments in nanotechnology which will be required to take us from current abilities to advanced nanosystems. The Roadmap will examine what can be developed in labs today and then map out a step-by-step plan for developing these new nanotechnologies.
The Roadmap process will bring together and coordinate the thinking and activity of key stakeholders who have a role in developing the next generations of nanotechnology. These stakeholders will include governments, corporations, research institutions, policy professionals, investors, educators and the media. The goal is to provide a common vocabulary and framework that each stakeholder can use as input for their own businesses strategy, investment, or research and development process.
NN: Why develop a Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems now? What forces have come into play to require a roadmap?
We have essentially arrived at the first stage of nanotechnology - the ability to synthesize nanostructured materials with novel and valuable properties.
A key next question is where we should focus our efforts collectively to develop the next generation of nanotechnology, and on what basis will those decisions be made. Governments, corporations and research institution are spending billions of dollars a year on nanotech R&D. How do we ensure that an appropriate portion of those funds are being spent on the highest-leverage critical path nanotechnologies?
The Roadmap is designed to define and illuminate those development pathways. It will show what we should focus on today, and provide a foundation for establishing research and commercialization agendas for future nanotechnology.
NN: What are Productive Nanosystems? How do they fit into the visions put forth by Forsight Founder K. Eric Drexler in his book Nanosystems?
Our working definition is that "Productive Nanosystems are molecular-scale systems that make other useful materials and devices that are nanostructured." However, through the Roadmap process, this definition is likely to evolve. I would classify Dr. Drexler's work as one concept for future Productive Nanosystems.
He has written a paper that was published recently about his concept. It can be found on the Institute of Physics site.
NN: What specific issues are addressed by this roadmap? What is the output and what are the milestones? Who judges completeness and what are the criteria?
We have assembled a steering Committee to oversee the Roadmap process and review the outcomes. We also have project partners providing underwriting and technical expertise. The output, milestones and criteria will be defined by our Steering Committee. The first important public deliverable is the first edition of the Roadmap, which will be delivered in print and electronic formats. The availability date of the first edition will be determined by the Steering Committee early on in the Roadmap process.
NN: How important is that you have Battelle and the Waitt Family Foundation on board? What do they bring to the table?
These partners are extremely important. The Waitt Family Foundation and its related institutes are very forward-thinking, led by one of the foremost computer entrepreneurs and philanthropists. Their team will take an active role in guiding the Roadmap. Battelle is one of the best research organizations in the world, with nearly $3 billion in annual income and five government labs under management. Their areas of focus align very well with the Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges. They bring deep expertise in the science and technology disciplines to be addressed by the Roadmap.
NN: How important is it that you have individuals such as Steve Jurvetson (Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson), Ted Waitt (Chairman, Avalon Capital Group and the Waitt Family Foundation), and Dr. John Randall (Chief Technology Officer, Zyvex), among others, on the steering committee?
Each of the Steering Committee members brings important expertise, knowledge, resources and wisdom that will help to assure that the Roadmap will yield the best document and clearest outcome possible.
NN: With this roadmap, how has the mission of the Foresight Nanotech Institute changed?
We have made a strategic decision to do two new things.
One is to focus not only on long-term visions of nanotechnology, but to focus on near- and mid-term science and technology which address the most critical problem facing humanity, as articulated in the Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges.
The other is to take an active role in defining and guiding the next generations of nanotechnology development - to provide a Roadmap for getting from where we are today to more advanced forms of nanotechnology.
NN: Why does Foresight think it is the best leader for this initiative? What differentiates Foresight from all of the other nano organizations out there?
Foresight has a legacy of being visionary and focusing on the cutting edge. It was the first organization to educate the public about nanotechnology. We are a public interest organization, and work for the benefit of all society, with an open and transparent agenda. This gives us the unique ability to convene diverse groups to accomplish projects that cut across many lines and barriers in the field, both domestically and internationally.
NN: Is this effort regional, national or international?
This Roadmap is planned to be an international effort. We have focused domestically so far in order to most efficiently create a critical mass for the project. We will add more international participation in the near future.
NN: How will Foresight handle the politics of competition? Are there precedents for a roadmap for an emerging industry this large being done collaboratively? Has this ever been done successfully?
Our primary success model is the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors. This is the most successful roadmap of which we are aware. It plays a key role in driving developments in the semiconductor industry.
For examples of other roadmap projects go to our resource page.
NN: How will you define success?
We will define success by the degree to which the nanotechnology field embraces the Roadmap as a valuable and actionable planning tool.
NN: How will the Roadmap have an effect on what happens? What is the process?
The Roadmap will be a co-creative process and will unfold over the next couple of years. As Alan Kay is famous for saying, "The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
NN: How can someone find out more about the Roadmap Initiative?
There is more information on our website
There will also be lectures on the Roadmap at the Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology: Focusing on the Cutting Edge
13th Foresight Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology
October 22-27, 2005
San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel
Dr. Eric Drexler will give a talk on the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems at the Vision Weekend, October 22-23, 2005. Dr. Drexler is the Chief Technical Advisor, Nanorex, and Founder, Foresight Nanotech Institute.
A Luncheon Seminar on the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems will be given on October 27, 2005 at 12:10 p.m.
Get more information by contacting:
Foresight Nanotech Institute
PO Box 61058
Palo Alto, CA 94306 USA
tel +1 650 289.0860
fax +1 650.289.0863
Scott Mize is the President of Foresight Nanotech Institute.
Foresight Nanotech Institute: Founded in 1986, we were the first organization to educate society about the benefits and risks of nanotechnology. At that time our focus was on preparing society for nanotechnology, then a little known science and technology.
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