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Home > Engines of Creation K. Eric Drexler - Book Review

Engines of Creation K. Eric Drexler - Book Review

Book Review "Engines of Creation" K. Eric Drexler



"Nanotechnology, or molecular technology, involves the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules. {In this book Drexler considers the implications of this technology.}" (Libr J) Glossary. Index.

Nanotechnology Now Review  

Published in 1987, this book is the first thorough [albeit dated] description of Nanotechnology, the science behind it, a history to that point, predictions as to some possibilities, and some cautions. K. Eric Drexler provides the reader with an inside glimpse of the hows and whys regarding the multidisciplinary technologies that are working both together and apart to bring us the possibility of abundance, vastly greater health & longevity, and a variety of other science fiction-esque outcomes. We highly recommend it, and believe it should be one of the first books you read when you start on the road to understanding Nanotechnology, MEMS [microelectromechanical systems], Molecular-scale Manufacturing, Nanobiotechnology, Nanoelectronics, Nanofabrication, Molecular Nanoscience, Molecular Nanotechnology, Nanomedicines, Computational Nanotechnology, Biomedical Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, Extropy, Transhumanism, and Singularity. If you are like me, reading it online does not cut it--so I bought the book. Somehow, holding it in my hands, and being able to lend it, makes all the difference!

From the Publisher

This brilliant work heralds the new age of nanotechnology, which will give us thorough and inexpensive control of the structure of matter. Drexler examines the enormous implications of these developments for medicine, the economy, and the environment, and makes astounding yet well-founded projections for the future.

From the Critics

From A.J. Read - Choice

Drexler (research affiliate, MIT's Space Systems Laboratory) makes a plausible and easily readable case for expecting technological developments in artificial intelligence and molecular engineering (including bioengineering) that will result in tiny mechanisms controlled by microscopic powerful thinking computers--capable of assembling atoms and molecules in a few minutes into any desired macroscopic object, perhaps even living organisms. . . . Drexler also explores questions of what humanity must develop in the way of social, moral, and governmental systems to make a future of such effortless material abundance worth living in, presuming that life is not first annihilated by misuse of the new technology. His 40 pages of notes and references are regrettably rendered useless by the total lack of the usual indicators in the body of the text directing the reader to the notes. Nevertheless, this book can be recommended for college and public library collections in the relations of technology and society.

From Michael Swaine - Dr. Dobb's Electronic Review of Computer Books

Little Engines That Could

A scientist becomes a perfect superman after injecting himself with self-replicating microscopic machines that continually repair his organs. A man rents a device that sets tiny machines loose in his brain, rewiring it so that he becomes, for a brief time, a different person. A cell-repair nanotech machine -- a "nanny" -- fed with one person’s DNA and set to repairing another’s cells, begins turning the second person into the first. Infoviruses systematically reprogram human genes, redirecting evolution. Society is reshaped from top to bottom by nanotechnology. Experimental nanomachines escape from the lab and destroy the world.

Mere science fiction, you say? Of course. Specifically, these are the plots of several science fiction stories appearing in Nanotech, a collection of cautionary tales in the subgenre of nanotechnology-based science fiction, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozios (Ace Books, 1998; ISBN 0-441-00585-3). Science fiction writers were profoundly influenced by the publication of Eric Drexler’s Engines of Creation. In that book and in the more technical Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation (John Wiley & Sons, 1992; ISBN 0-47-157-518-6), Drexler defined the field of nanotechnology, mapped out its challenges, and articulated its most promising avenues of research. A number of science fiction writers staked out nanotech as their chosen science to fictionalize, and a subgenre was born.

Others besides science fiction writers were influenced by Engines of Creation. Researchers around the world have been exploring the possibilities for nanotechnology since the book’s publication. Last fall, Drexler’s Foresight Institute brought the leading researchers together to explore the state of the art in nanotechnology today. So far, none of the predictions of nanotech science fiction have come true. So far.

From Terence Monmaney - The New York Times Book Review

Mr. Drexler writes that nanotechnology 'will sweep the world within ten to fifty years.' That would be nice, but it is unlikely. 'Engines of Creation' is a clearly written, hopeful forecast, remarkable for an unembarrassed faith in progress through technology. Certainly computers appeared in a hurry, and, as Mr. Drexler likes to remind us, there are footprints on the moon. Those splendid achievements haven't made any utopian dreams come true, though, and it's hard to believe nanotechnology could do that, no matter how wonderful it turns out to be.

From Library Journal

Nanotechnology, or molecular technology, involves the manipulation of individual atoms and molecules, something the human body already does. In Engines of Creation, Drexler attempts to predict, justify, quantify, and caution us about this important new field in engineering. His book could have been the first and foremost discussion of this fascinating subject. But Drexler strays from the topic with annoying regularity. He devotes too little space to the possibilities of nanotechnology and too much to esoteric and opinionated discussions of philosophy, politics, information science, defense, human relations, etc. Nanotechnology will indeed become a reality, and the public needs to be informed. It is therefore unfortunate that Engines of Creation was not written more clearly or directly. Kurt O. Baumgartner, International Minerals & Chemical Corp., Terre Haute, Ind.


Number of Reviews: 1 Average Rating:  

A reviewer, one of the first immortals, March 18, 1999  
Get your card out and buy it!
Within 200 years the human race will become very advanced technologically. It will defeat biological death and all diseases, and populate space. The technology that will make this possible is being developed. It is called nanotechnology. Eric K. Drexler is one of its pioneers. Amazing book. Reading it could be a matter of life or death to you. Unfortunately most of us are not ready to accept such knowledge and embrace such technology.

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