e-book: Engines of Creation

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Updated and Expanded | Engines of Creation 2.0 — The Coming Era of Nanotechnology

March 1, 2007

Engines of Creation 2

Author:
K. Eric Drexler
Publisher:
WOWIO Books (2007)

WOWIO Books | Originally published in 1986, K. Eric Drexler’s Engines of Creation laid the theoretical foundation for the modern field of nanotechnology and articulated the amazing possibilities and dangers associated with engineering at the molecular scale.

Unique for both its style and substance, the book is today recognized as the seminal work in nanotechnology and has earned Drexler the title of “Father of Nanotechnology.”

Engines ofread more

ENGINES of CREATION 2.0 | Letter from the Author

March 1, 2007

Engines of Creation 2

Author:
K. Eric Drexler
Publisher:
WOWIO Books (2007)

Originally published in Engines of Creation 2.0, WOWIO Books, February 2007.

Engines of Creation in 1986 inspired an explosion of interest in  nanotechnology. Version 2.0 updates this classic book, including new concepts for molecular manufacturing and new uses for nanotech, such as removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and compressing it to liquid density for long-term storage.

The vision I portrayed in Engines of Creation in 1986 inspired a generation of students to direct their careers toward nanotechnology. Perhaps because it explores consequences of physics and broad principles, rather than tracking then-current technologies and trends, Engines continues to sell briskly as a book on the future of technology.

It would be difficult to understand where nanotechnology is today without understanding how we got here. Today’s pattern of research and opinion bears the imprint of ideas in Engines of Creation, in part directly, but in large part through reactions, misconceptions, reactions to misconceptions, and the peculiar dance of politics, technologies, and funding that followed. I’d like to offer a sketch of this process as it looked from my perspective, then a brief view looking forward.… read more

ENGINES of CREATION 2.0 | Molecular Engineering: An Approach to the Development of General Capabilities for Molecular Manipulation

March 1, 2007

Engines of Creation 2

Author:
K. Eric Drexler
Publisher:
WOWIO Books (2007)

Originally published in Engines of Creation 2.0, WOWIO Books, February 2007.

Development of the ability to design protein molecules will open a path to the fabrication of devices to complex atomic specifications, thus sidestepping obstacles facing conventional microtechnology. This path will involve construction of molecular machinery able to position reactive groups to atomic precision. It could lead to great advances in computational devices and in theread more

ENGINES of CREATION 2.0 | Advice to Aspiring Nanotechnologists

March 1, 2007

Engines of Creation 2

Author:
K. Eric Drexler
Publisher:
WOWIO Books (2007)

Originally published in Engines of Creation 2.0, WOWIO Books, February 2007.

It makes no practical sense to try to build a molecular assembler today. But we can build enabling technologies today, including protein engineering, general macromolecular engineering, and micromanipulation techniques, which will make it easier to build assemblers tomorrow. So, students preparing for a career in nanotech are advised to learn the fundamentals of molecular science and technology.

Studying Nanotechnology

Many students have asked what they should study to prepare for careers in nanotechnology. Giving a decent answer requires outlining the different fields of research that fall under the nanotechnology umbrella and describing the background knowledge required to work in them. It also seems wise to say something about the different levels of knowledge and modes of learning that are relevant to such a broad, interdisciplinary area. The following is a personal view, based on what I have learned (and wished I had learned), and on how learning in these areas seems to work best. One can’t master everything relevant to so broad a field.… read more

ENGINES of CREATION | Introduction to the Web Version

February 21, 2001
engines
Author:
K. Eric Drexler
Publisher:
Anchor (1987)

The ten years since Engines of Creation was first published have brought us far along the path to the development of molecular nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing. Advances have been faster than I had expected.

The basic concepts have also been more controversial than I had expected. Even now, after (for example) the U.S. Science Advisor has called for the development of molecular manufacturing, segments of the science establishment are still having difficulties with some quite simple ideas.

It seems obvious that gaining thorough control of matter at the molecular level will enable major technological advances, and our progress toward this ability is likewise obvious. The molecular machinery found in nature provides an existence proof for enormous capabilities. Research advances in building such machines are reported in journals every week. Perhaps the short time horizons common in US and European science provide the excuse for neglecting the consequences of what we already know to be possible.… read more

ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 1: Engines of Construction

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler
Publisher:
Anchor (1987)

Foreword by Marvin Minsky

K. Eric Drexler’s Engines of Creation is an enormously original book about the consequences of new technologies. It is ambitious and imaginative and, best of all, the thinking is technically sound

But how can anyone predict where science and technology will take us? Although many scientists and technologists have tried to do this, isn’t it curious that the most successful attempts were those of science… read more

ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 2: The Principles of Change

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

Think of the design process as involving first the generation of alternatives and then the testing of these alternatives against a whole array of requirements and constraints.
HERBERT A. SIMON

MOLECULAR ASSEMBLERS will bring a revolution without parallel since the development of ribosomes, the primitive assemblers in the cell. The resulting nanotechnologycan help life spread beyond Earth – a step without parallel since life spread beyond the seas. It can help mind emerge in machines – a step without parallel since mind emerged in primates. And it can let our minds renew and remake our bodies – a step without any parallel at all.

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ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 5: Thinking Machines

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

The world stands on the threshold of a second computer age. New technology now moving out of the laboratory is starting to change the computer from a fantastically fast calculating machine to a device that mimics human thought processes – giving machines the capability to reason, make judgments, and even learn. Already this artificial intelligence is performing tasks once thought to require human intelligence…
- BUSINESS WEEK

COMPUTERS have emerged from back rooms and laboratories to help with writing, calculating, and play in homes and offices. These machines do simple, repetitive tasks, but machines still in the laboratory do much more. Artificial intelligence researchers say that computers can be made smart, and fewer and fewer people disagree. To understand our future, we must see whether artificial intelligence is as impossible as flying to the Moon.

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ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 15: Worlds Enough, and Time

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

The difficulty lies, not in the new ideas, but in escaping the old ones, which ramify, for those brought up as most of us have been, into every corner of our minds.
JOHN MAYNARD KEYNES

I HAVE DESCRIBED how advances in chemistry and biotechnology will lead to assemblers, which will bring nanocomputers, replicators, and cell repair machines. I have described how advances in software will lead to automated engineering and artificial intelligence. Together, these advances will make possible a future rich in possibilities, one of which is our own destruction. If we use fact forums and hypertext to strengthen our foresight, we may nonetheless avoid annihilation and move forward – but toward what?

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ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 4: Engines of Abundance

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

If every tool, when ordered, or even of its own accord, could do the work that befits it… then there would be no need either of apprentices for the master workers or of slaves for the lords.
- ARISTOTLE

ON MARCH 27, 1981, CBS radio news quoted a NASA scientist as saying that engineers will be able to build self-replicating robots within twenty years, for use in space or on Earth. These machines would build copies of themselves, and the copies would be directed to make useful products. He had no doubt of their possibility, only of when they will be built. He was quite right.

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