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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

November 21st, 2008
What the US can learn from the UK
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

A new report from the British goverment's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution says "new governance arrangements are necessary" to deal with the profound implications of advanced nanotechnology, and warns that this "will take time, possibly decades, to develop and implement." It's gratifying to see these issues taken seriously (finally!) and we hope the US will follow the lead of their UK counterparts. Read the Whole Article


September 25th, 2008
Nanotechnology and Geoengineering
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Given the accumulating effects of global warming and the increasing potential for disastrous climate change, some form of geoengineering likely will be attempted within the next decade or two. As advanced nanotechnology moves ahead, it could enable -- for better or for worse -- truly epic planet-scale (re)terraforming projects. Read the Whole Article


August 14th, 2008
Nanotech in the Big Picture
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

When CRN was founded five years ago, our intent was to assist in establishing the technical feasibility of molecular manufacturing, to mount a convincing argument that it would be a disruptive, transformative technology, and to raise awareness of the potential imminence of its arrival. Now we need to step back and look at the bigger picture. Read the Whole Article


May 17th, 2008
Nanotechnology and the Potential for Global Governance
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Since founding CRN five years ago, we've been concerned that the unprecedented power of molecular manufacturing and the potential for exponential proliferation of nanofactory technology may make it essential to create an international administration to regulate it. Half a decade later, have global political conditions changed in any way to make this outcome seem more likely? Read the Whole Article


March 22nd, 2008
Super-Empowered Hopeful Individuals
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Most discussions of the benefits of molecular manufacturing tend to focus either on broad social advances or individual desires that such a transformative technology may be able to satisfy. These are surely useful ways of thinking about a nanotech-enabled world. But what if this model misses another category, one that may be less noticeable precisely because we pay so much attention to its opposite? Read the Whole Article


February 21st, 2008
Who will win the nano race?
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Building powerfully advanced products quickly, easily, cheaply, and in huge numbers that's the disruptive impact of molecular manufacturing. When a new technology has the potential to radically transform national and global economies, geopolitical relations, and even human social structures, we'd better learn as much about it as we can. A critically important question to answer is who. Which nation, group, corporation, or consortium is most likely to achieve the "holy grail" of nanotechnology first? Read the Whole Article


January 25th, 2008
What Did We Learn?
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Throughout 2007, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology worked on assembling a series of eight scenarios depicting a variety of near-term futures in which molecular manufacturing becomes a reality. What sort of insights can we gain from looking at the set of scenarios as a whole? Read the Whole Article


January 25th, 2008
The Fermi Death Sentence
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Fermi Paradox is what it suggests for the future of our human civilization. Namely, that we have no future beyond earthly confinement and, quite possibly, extinction. Could advanced nanotechnology play a role in preventing that extinction? Or, more darkly, is it destined to be instrumental in carrying out humanity's unavoidable death sentence? Read the Whole Article


December 8th, 2007
Creating Productive Nanotech Communities
Jessica Margolin
Director of Research Communities, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Moving forward into a rapidly changing world and making good decisions about safe development and responsible use of advanced nanotechnology will require the creation of healthy, diverse, productive communities of nanotech researchers, students, policy analysts, and interested observers. Read the Whole Article


October 20th, 2007
The Nanofactory Ecosystem
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

In addition to understanding the progress of nanotechnology toward building atomically-precise desktop manufacturing systems -- nanofactories -- we also need to consider the infrastructure needed to sustain that new technology paradigm. What sort of "ecosystem" might spring up around nanofactories? Read the Whole Article


September 28th, 2007
Nanotechnology: Journey vs. Destination
Chris Phoenix
Director of Research, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology has acquired several distinct meanings over the last few decades. Its development has been marked by this confusion, which has led to concerns from one field of nanotechnology, molecular manufacturing, being applied to other fields. As all fields of nanotechnology continue to develop, molecular manufacturing will reach a point where it is able to accelerate the other fields. Read the Whole Article


August 27th, 2007
Early Products in the Nanotech Revolution
Chris Phoenix
Director of Research, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Building complex products atom by atom with advanced nanotechnology: if and when this is accomplished, the resulting applications could radically transform many areas of human endeavor. Products for transportation, recreation, communication, medical care, basic needs, military support, and environmental monitoring -- all may be profoundly affected even during the early stages of the coming nanotech "revolution." Read the Whole Article


July 16th, 2007
Sudden Step or Gradual Rise?
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Two competing views of near-future technological change vie for ascendancy. The first is that although scientific breakthroughs will continue to occur and new applications of cutting-edge technologies will bring changes to society, overall those impacts -- while remarkable -- will remain evolutionary, not revolutionary. The second view is that a discontinuity of some kind is coming. Whether from genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, or nanotechnology, the extent of change that occurs will be so transformative that society -- and perhaps humans themselves -- cannot be the same afterward. Read the Whole Article


June 26th, 2007
From Basic Nanotechnology to Molecular Manufacturing
Chris Phoenix
Director of Research, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Robots building robots sounds convenient--but how do you build the first one, especially when they're too small to see? Read the Whole Article


May 31st, 2007
A Wiki Nano Catalog?
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Imagine a website -- a giant online catalog -- offering basic products for free, better products at market price, and high-end products as well. Search for the product you want, then download the design to your home nanofactory and build it for only the cost of raw materials and power, plus a design fee (if any). Assuming that a binding international agreement can be reached for open distribution of restricted nanofactories, then the sharing and improvement of nanotechnology product designs might be the next step, perhaps through an online "wiki" site. Read the Whole Article


May 7th, 2007
Making Diamond, Making Plans
Chris Phoenix
Director of Research, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Molecular manufacturing plans to build diamond structures by using molecular machines to transfer atoms to selected positions on the workpiece. Proponents have asserted that this could be done, but the lack of detailed recipes has fueled skepticism. Robert Freitas recently announced that he and Ralph Merkle have now developed a set of mechanical chemical reactions for diamond-building, and tested them with high-quality simulation. This strengthens the case for molecular manufacturing. Freitas also discussed a timeline for nanofactory development that is not far off from CRN's timeline. Read the Whole Article


March 28th, 2007
Exploring Nanotech's Profound Implications
Mike Treder
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Who should be most concerned about the implications of advanced nanotechnology? Whose interests will be impacted enough by molecular manufacturing that it should be part of their long-term planning? Read the Whole Article


February 28th, 2007
The Nanoscale Blacksmith
Chris Phoenix
Director of Research, Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Someday, perhaps soon, nanotechnology manufacturing will use nanoscale tools to build more nanoscale tools via computer-controlled fabrication of molecules, similar to the way a blacksmith can fabricate tools using only the tools on hand. Several factors contribute to the attractiveness of this approach, including scaling laws and various benefits of precise construction. Molecular manufacturing may enjoy quite high construction rates, thanks to the small size of the tool relative to the product, leading to the construction of large, high-performance, nano-featured products that could have revolutionary impact. Targeted development programs for achieving this approach are likely to be launched within the next five to ten years. Read the Whole Article

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