e-book: Engines of Creation

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ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 7: Engines of Healing

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

One of the things which distinguishes ours from all earlier generations is this, that we have seen our atoms.
- KARL K. DARROW, The Renaissance of Physics

WE WILL USE molecular technology to bring health because the human body is made of molecules. The ill, the old, and the injured all suffer from mis-arranged patterns of atoms, whether mis-arranged by invading viruses, passing time, or swerving cars. Devices able to rearrange atoms will be able to set them right. Nanotechnology will bring a fundamental breakthrough in medicine.

ENGINES of CREATION | Afterword

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

Afterword, 1985

IN THE FIELDS I have described, the pace of events is swift. Within the last month or so, a number of developments have occurred or come to my attention:

 Several groups are now working on protein design, and the newly founded Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology plans to support such efforts. A group at the National Bureau of Standards has combined two molecular-simulation techniques in a way crucial to designing assemblers. Advances have also been made in the use of computers to plan molecular synthesis.

ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 6: The World Beyond Earth

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

That inverted Bowl we call The Sky; Whereunder crawling coop’d we live and die.
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam

THE EARTH is but a small part of the world, and the rest of the world will be important to our future. In terms of energy, materials, and room for growth, space is almost everything. In the past, successes in space have regularly fulfilled engineering projections. In the future, an open space frontier will widen the human world. Advances in AI and nanotechnology will play a crucial role.  

ENGINES of CREATION | Glossary

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

This glossary contains terms used in describing matters related to advanced technology. It was compiled by the MIT Nanotechnology Study Group, with special help from David Darrow of Indiana University.

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.

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?

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.

ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 14: The Network of Knowledge

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

Computers … have penetrated our daily lives and are becoming society’s central nervous system.
- TOHRU MOTO-OKA

TO PREPARE for the assembler breakthrough, society must learn to learn faster. Fact forums will help, but new technologies may help even more. With them, we will be able to spread, refine, and combine our information far faster than ever before.

ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 3: Predicting and Projecting

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

The critical attitude may be described as the conscious attempt to make our theories, our conjectures, suffer in our stead in the struggle for the survival of the fittest. It gives us a chance to survive the elimination of an inadequate hypothesis – when a more dogmatic attitude would eliminate it by eliminating us.
- Sir KARL POPPER

AS WE LOOK FORWARD to see where the technology race leads, we should ask three questions. What is possible, what is achievable, and what is desirable?

ENGINES of CREATION | Chapter 13: Finding the Facts

February 21, 2001
Author:
K. Eric Drexler

Fear cannot be banished, but it can be calm and without panic; and it can be mitigated by reason and evaluation.
- VANNEVAR BUSH

SOCIETY NEEDS BETTER WAYS to understand technology – this has long been obvious. The challenges ahead simply make our need more urgent.

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