essays collection By Author | Z-A

Words and Rules

February 21, 2001 by Steven Pinker

An important problem in AI in understanding how language works. In this paper, presented in his Colin Cherry Memorial Lecture on March 23, 1999 at Imperial College, London, Dr. Steven Pinker suggests that we use a combination of memory and grammatical rules to convey information.… read more

Design of a Primitive Nanofactory

December 4, 2003 by Chris Phoenix

Molecular manufacturing requires more than mechanochemistry. A single nanoscale fabricator cannot build macro-scale products. This paper describes the mechanisms, structures, and processes of a prototypical macro-scale, programmable nanofactory composed of many small fabricators. Power requirements, control of mechanochemistry, reliability in the face of radiation damage, convergent assembly processes and joint mechanisms, and product design are discussed in detail, establishing that the design should be capable of duplicating itself. Nanofactory parameters are derived from plausible fabricator parameters. The pre-design of a nanofactory and many products appears to be within today’s capabilities. Bootstrapping issues are discussed briefly, indicating that nanofactory development might occur quite soon after fabricator development. Given an assembler, a nanofactory appears feasible and worthwhile, and should be accounted for in assembler policy discussions.… read more

Don’t let Crichton’s Prey scare you–the science isn’t real

January 26, 2003 by Chris Phoenix

A review of Michael Crichton’s Prey, a novel featuring out-of-control, self-replicating nanotechnology.… read more

Molecular Manufacturing: Start Planning

October 9, 2003 by Chris Phoenix

Molecular nanotechnology manufacturing is coming soon. The economic value–and military significance–of a nanofactory will be immense. But if a well-designed plan is not in place, serious risks will very likely lead to military destruction, social or economic disruption or unnecessary human suffering on a large scale. Here’s what needs to be done.… read more

Nanotech Basics

March 27, 2006 by Chris Phoenix, Mike Treder

Members of the Global Task Force of The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) have written 11 key essays addressing the profound implications of molecular manufacturing. They were published in the current issue of Nanotechnology Perceptions and are also available on for discussion on the MindX forum.… read more

Review of Nanocosm

June 6, 2003 by Chris Phoenix

The new book Nanocosm reports on exciting advances in nanotech but suffers from numerous technical inaccuracies and distortions of the work of nanotech pioneers.… read more

Safe Utilization of Advanced Nanotechnology

January 27, 2003 by Chris Phoenix, Mike Treder

The “gray goo” scenario and other dangers of advanced nanotechnology can be avoided with a centrally controlled, relatively large, self-contained nanofactory, administered by a central authority and with restricted-design software.… read more

The Need For Limits

March 24, 2006 by Chris Phoenix

Molecular manufacturing will give its wielders extreme power and has the potential to remove or bypass many of today’s limits, including laws. That could lead to a planet-wide dictatorship, or to any of several forms of irreversible destruction. Perhaps the biggest problem of all will be how to develop a system of near-absolute power that will not become corrupt.… read more

Foresight call to action

December 16, 2003 by Christine Peterson

Despite the revolutionary promise of molecular nanotechnology (MNT), the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) excludes explicit funding for MNT. The recent Drexler-Smalley debate in Chemical & Engineering News offers an opportunity to correct that. Foresight president Christine Peterson suggests how.… read more

Molecular Manufacturing: Societal Implications of Advanced Nanotechnology

April 10, 2003 by Christine Peterson

The best way to reduce risks from molecular manufacturing would be an open, international R&D program with broad cooperation by the democracies, including a parallel arms control verification project. This requires a decision to pursue the goal and substantial funding. But both of these are currently blocked by the lack of consensus on the technical feasibility of molecular manufacturing. So we urgently need a basic feasibility review by unbiased scientists.… read more

How to Change the World . . . Quickly

March 7, 2001 by John Petersen

Futurist John Petersen describes a powerful tool that organizations can use for making a desirable future happen, called “normative scenarios.”… read more

Wild Cards: The Nature of Big Future Surprises

March 7, 2001 by John Petersen

In the coming years, the world could experience a series of massively transformative events, or “wild cards,” brought on by radical developments in areas such as AI and nanotechnology. Futurist John Petersen suggests strategies for dealing with them proactively.… read more

Bioconvergence: Progenitor of the Nanotechnology Age

March 8, 2001 by Charles Ostman

Advances in genetic engineering, advanced computational processes, nanobiology, and biological metaphors in computing are leading to a “bioconvergence” that will reshape the economies of the world and perhaps even the very definition of life itself.… read more

Interview with Robert A. Freitas Jr. Part 1

February 2, 2006 by Sander Olson, Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Robert A. Freitas Jr. has written pioneering books on nanomedicine,
nanorobots, and molecular manufacturing. What’s next? The last two books in the Nanomedicine series and a book on fundamentals of nanomechanical engineering, extending Eric Drexler’s classic Nanosystems, he reveals in this interview.… read more

Sander Olson Interviews Ray Kurzweil

February 10, 2006 by Sander Olson, Ray Kurzweil

Nonbiological intelligence is multiplying by over 1,000 per decade. Once we can achieve the software of intelligence, which we will achieve through reverse-engineering the human brain, non-biological intelligence will soar past biological intelligence. By the 2040s, nonbiological intelligence will be a billion times more powerful than the 10^26 computations per second that all biological humanity represents.… read more

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