Chapter topic list for Engines of Creation 2001

from the please-comment dept.
It's been fifteen years since Engines of Creation (or see free online version) came out — time for a new book looking at coming technologies. Read More for an initial chapter topic list, target readership, and a list of specific items requested from those wishing to help with the book. Comment by posting here on nanodot in the usual way, or you can use Foresight's annotation tool to insert comments at specific locations in the text.

Nanoshock (was: Engines of Creation 2001)
title/subtitle ideas are welcome

Paper version vs online version: in the long term, we expect the online
version to grow far beyond the paper version both in content and
importance.  In the short term, we'll be focusing on extracting a paper
version from the material collected online.

Target readership: average intelligent general reader, assuming no
science background since high school

Style: informal.  Online version can link to references.

Goal: to be as reassuring as possible while honestly presenting coming
powerful changes in technology, focusing on nanotechnology

Specific items requested: examples and analogies (from history, art,
literature, science, technology, business, fiction, science fiction);
illustrations (graphics, charts, etc.)

How to contribute: make suggestions as comments to book-related item on, post a new book-related item on nanodot, or annotate the
draft using  (If you must, send email to the author directly,
but then it will not be in the visible draft development, thereby
missing public credit).  We expect the online material to eventually be
merged into a larger data structure of ideas, accessible via a good
user interface.

Table of Contents
Note: these are chapter topics, not chapter titles

Chapter 1: Technological Change, good and bad
Examples of both kinds
Trying to stop technological change has unexpected side effects
(abortion ban, drug ban, cloning ban).  Some bans are worth doing
anyway (murder ban)

Chapter 2: Nanotechnology

Chapter 3: Life Extension, biotech, human modification
Concerns about biotech are temporary

Chapter 4: Space
Who "inherits" the Earth?

Chapter 5: Openness, transparency, surveillance
End of violent crime as we know it

Chapter 6: Earth's environment
the end of rage and despair
Example: end of oil as fuel

Chapter 7: AI

Chapter 8: Software reliability and security

Chapter 9: Intellectual property
The social cost of controlling bitstreams into and out of people's
computers outweighs the proposed benefits

Chapter 10: Nanodefense, immune system

Chapter 11: Social software, personal action

Further reading

Themes throughout book:
traditional/evolved human values
        (e.g. human scale traditional Mediterranean lifestyle)
        (quote from, e.g., Hernando de Soto)
human need to be able to make personal plans
freedom [i.e. freedom from coercion vs freedom from
misfortune (consequences of one's actions,
ancestor's actions, lack of money);
division/boundary is "where your fist meets my nose"]
power, avoiding abuse of
old problems go away, new problems arrive
what the free market doesn't provide
thinking vs feeling, role of each
war, government, politicians
Amish as "canary in coal mine" indicator of freedom/stability
science fiction, usefulness of
continual redistribution as economic and environmental
problem, no stewardship
policy DAG (directed acyclic graph of escalating policy
principles to aim for, to protect values we care for (i.e. cold
rules with warm human effects)
role of "local knowledge"
globalization vs local control, depends on topic area
        OK to be more restrictive locally than over wider area
cost of policy errors (need non-dollar measure that shows
human cost, i.e. one Ivy League education)
you already have the mental tools, and probably some
valuable capital, to deal with what's coming
how to explain these ideas

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