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Foresight Update 46

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A publication of the Foresight Institute


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Institute for Molecular Manufacturing Debates the Feasibility of Molecular Assemblers

IMM responds to two articles in the September 2001 issue of Scientific American that attack the feasibility of molecular assemblers (see "IMM Responds to Articles in Scientific American")

"On Physics, Fundamentals, and Nanorobots"


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"Many Future Nanomachines"


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Institute for Molecular Manufacturing Report

The portion of Update 46 that constitutes the IMM Report is on the IMM Web site: http://www.imm.org/.

"Nanomedicine: How Nanorobots Can Avoid Phagocytosis by White Cells, Part II" by Robert A. Freitas Jr.


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Foresight Update 46 - Table of Contents

 

Media Watch.46

by Richard P. Terra

Richard P. Terra Entrepreneurial and investor interest in the potential of nanotechnology is reaching new levels. In the past few months, a number of reports on nanotechnology aimed at this audience have appeared:

In early August 2001, the Southern California Nanotechnology Working Group, part of the Technology Alliance for Southern California (formerly the Los Angeles Regional Technology Alliance, or LARTA) has issued a report ("Nanotechnology Yellow Pages: Industry Report and Directory for the 'Nano Republic' of Southern California") on the potential opportunities in the nanotech sector, along with a listing of the region's leading corporations, universities, and research laboratories in nanotechnology. Despite the tone of boosterism that tries to place S. California at the center of the nanotech universe and a few copyediting bloopers ("J. Eric Drexler"???), it is an interesting read. Most of the firms listed actually produce bulk nanostructured materials, but the listing of government, university and corporate research labs is useful.

LARTA is a nonprofit organization based at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. The report is available as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file (about 550 KB) on the LARTA website -- if you register for their e-mail newsletter.

An article on the SmallTimes website ("Nano Yellow Pages are blueprint for Southern California's future", by Jayne Fried, 3 August 2001) includes some useful background on LARTA and the report, as well as some amusing PR puffery in the hyperbolic comments made by LARTA officers.

Also in August 2001, Lux Capital, a venture capital firm based in New York, has released "The Nanotech Report," a 269-page overview of the field. The report provides a conceptual framework for understanding nanotechnology and its implications for business, including both startups and established firms, and focuses on near term prospects. The lead author was IMM Senior Associate Josh Wolfe, one of the founding partners in Lux Capital.

Additional information about the report can be found in an article from the Wall Street Journal ("Investors Should Eye How Feds, Researchers Handle 'Nanotechnology' " by D. Hamilton, 27 August 2001), as well as an article from the Small Times website ("New VC firm's report outlines nano challenges, opportunities", by T. Henderson, 29 August 2001) and a profile of Wolfe.

Apparently based on the principle that you must be able to spend money to make money, the report is currently available only to the investment community and sells for $4,750. However, you can get the report's introduction and table of contents for free, as an Acrobat PDF file.

And in September 2001, the global financial management firm of Merrill Lynch & Company, Inc. released a brief report titled "The Next Small Thing: An Introduction to Nanotechnology." The six-page report, available to its clients online, outlines the emerging field and said investment opportunities are closer than many in the market realize. The report is one of the first from a major firm directly aimed at mainstream investors, rather than strictly venture capital sources.

The report outlines five emerging markets, focusing on the near-term applications of the first two:

  • Instrumentation: In any new technology, the first winners are the toolmakers.
  • Physical: Examples include denser hard drives, smaller and faster chips and better optical switches.
  • Biological: Applications include drug delivery and disease detection.
  • Materials: Nanotechnology in materials development already is a significant business and is expected to grow dramatically as research and development advances with carbon nanostructures, such as buckyballs and nanotubes.
  • Futuristic: The long-term potential for nanotechnology, such as self-replicating nanorobots, is fascinating but fantastical, and therefore beyond investors' interest.

Merrill Lynch said nanotechnology holds promise as the next big growth innovation to drive the economy and stock market.


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Web Watch.46

by Jim Lewis

Jim Lewishttp://www.nanotech-planet.com/
Titled "The Center for Nanotechnology Business," Nanotech Planet offers news of and for the rapidly growing nanotechnology business community. Included are news briefs, feature stories on nanotechnology companies, and interviews with entrepreneurs. There is also a FAQ page focused on nanotechnology topics of special interest to near-term business development and a "resources" section that lists nanotechnology events, businesses focused on nanotechnology, universities and institutes researching, studying, or promoting nanotechnology, and some key papers that are publicly available.

http://www.nanotechnews.com/
NanotechNews.com is another web site providing "news and information for nanotechnologists". There is an extensive collection of posts on several dozen topics related to nanotechnology. Some are original articles; most are excerpts from and links to articles published elsewhere. A large glossary of nanotechnology-related terms is included to help with unfamiliar terms that a user may encounter in the articles.

http://www.nanoinvestornews.com/
NanoInvestorNews is similar in organization and contributors to NanotechNews.com but focuses specifically on nanotechnology investment information.

http://www.nanomagazine.com/
Nanomagazine.com is a new online magazine on nano-scale technology and molecular nanotechnology. Current (September 2001) contents consists of five interviews with pioneers in various aspects of nanotechnology and related topics.

http://www.larta.org/reports/nanopages.htm
A trade study on nanotechnology from a commercial viewpoint can be downloaded in PDF format from the web site of larta, the technology alliance for southern California, a non-profit technology advocacy focused on promoting southern California's technology community. The Nanotechnology Yellow Pages: Industry Report and Directory is a 552 KB document that includes an overview of nanotechnology — its past, present activity, and future potential — and presents a summary of areas of current commercial activity. The executive summary states "Nanotechnology today is a young industry that falls into two distinct categories: materials science products and basic research." Covering both of these categories, the report profiles several dozen companies and academic and government laboratories in southern California that are working in some aspect of nanotechnology.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/
"Kurzweil Accelerating Intelligence Network is a Web showcase for the ideas and technologies of leading visionaries. KurzweilAI.Net focuses on the exponential growth of intelligence, both biological and machine, and the merger of the two in a post-humanist future. This site paints a picture of the future where nanobots float through our bodies, healing sickness and augmenting our senses and cognitive abilities, and where you can be anyone you want to be in virtual reality." The site provides a guide in the person of Ramona, "the first photorealistic, interactive, lifelike avatar (virtual personality) that you can converse with on the web." Extensive discussions of the singularity, nanotechnology and other developing technologies, and the issues they raise.

http://singinst.org/
The web site of the nonprofit Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence describes their work on "the conceptualization, design, and implementation of Artificial Intelligence, especially Artificial Intelligence capable of self-modification, self-understanding, or self-enhancement ('seed AI'); Artificial Intelligence capable of humanlike general cognition ('general intelligence'); Artificial Intelligence which is qualitatively novel, rather than an extension of existing designs; and Artificial Intelligence which acts for the benefit for humanity ('Friendly AI')." Includes an introduction to the concept of the singularity, and extensive technical documents outlining their plans.


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Foresight Update 46 - Table of Contents

 

Credits and Kudos

Foresight THANKS to the CORPORATE SPONSORS
of its 9th Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology, November 9-11, 2001, in Santa Clara, California.

GOLD LEVEL SPONSORS:


SILVER LEVEL SPONSORS:


BRONZE LEVEL SPONSORS:

Christine PetersonSpecial thanks this quarter go to Senior Associate Dave Krieger, who has served as systems administrator for our news site Nanodot since its founding. Running a site like this takes far more work than — in some sense — it ought to, so if you're not a sysadmin yourself, take whatever amount of time you're imagining and multiply it about ten times. Responsibility for the site is migrating to Foresight CIO Ben Harper, but Dave's still helping with the transition. Bravo, Dave!

Yet more special thanks go to Senior Associates David Forrest, Robert Freitas Jr., J. Storrs Hall, Neil Jacobstein, Tom McKendree, and Ralph Merkle, who took the lead in responding to errors in the September 2001 Scientific American issue on nanotechnology (see cover story).

Ongoing thanks go to Senior Associate Chris Hibbert for leading Foresight's Idea Futures project. Recently the first claim came up for judging: had a germline-modified human been born? (UCLA's Greg Stock provided the judgment: No, not yet — mitochondrial DNA doesn't count. Thanks, Greg.)

Thanks to Dmitry Milikovsky for coordinating the Feynman Prizes for this year. While a prestigious job, this is still a lot of work, and we greatly appreciate the volunteers who take on tasks of this magnitude.

Thanks to Senior Associate Pierluigi Zappacosta for enabling Foresight to distribute literature and a survey about our proposed investor seminar at a recent Band of Angels meeting in Silicon Valley.

Thanks to RAFI and the Dag Hammarskjold Foundation for inviting Foresight's participation in their "What Next? Technological Transformation" seminar held this summer in Sweden.

Thanks to Chris Phoenix, Larry Rosen, and Michael Einschlag for their work on Foresight's IP project, PriorArt.org.

Continual thanks to all those who submit information to Foresight, especially those who are able to take the time to send that information to Nanodot in the preferred standard format — this is greatly appreciated.

— Christine Peterson, President


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Foresight Update 46 - Table of Contents | Page1 | Page2 | Page3


From Foresight Update 46, originally published 30 September 2001.



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