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January 8th, 2008
Within a couple of decades, we will have "nanobots" in our blood stream, basically small robots the size of blood cells, that will keep us healthy at the cellular and molecular level.
There are already dozens of successful experiments with a first generation of such devices in animals. One scientist cured type-I diabetes in rats with a blood cell-sized device, and scientists at MIT have microscopic devices that can scout out cancer cells in the bloodstream and destroy them. In 25 years these devices will be a billion times more powerful than they are today.
Take energy, for example. We are awash with it. We have 10 000 times more sunlight than we need to meet 100% of our energy needs. But we cannot capture sunlight with sufficient efficiency today because solar panels are still an old industrial technology. But nanotechnology will result in inexpensive and highly efficient solar panels that will easily capture the one part in 10 000 of the sunlight needed to replace fossil fuels. I believe that will happen within 20 years.
Emerging technologies can recycle dirty water into clean water at extremely low cost. About 80% of disease in the developing world comes from dirty water. Nanotechnology will also enable the production of food, modules to build housing, and manufacture clothing and the other staples of life, at extremely low cost.
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