C/NET Investor covers nanotechnology

from the Most-scientists-believe? dept.
A fairly decent investment-oriented article on nanotechnology appeared on the CNET News.com website ("Is small the next big thing?", by Tiffany Kary, 11 February 2002; the article also appears on the ZDnet website at http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1103-833739.html). As the article notes, "The revolution won't happen overnight, and even nanotechnology's biggest supporters acknowledge that the field could become the next craze–think dot-coms–in which hype outruns real application and business sense. Nevertheless, recent developments indicate that the science is progressing well beyond the "white paper" stage. For starters, the government, tech titans and venture capitalists are pouring money into the field, producing breakthroughs that have enabled several companies to make nanotechnology product announcements. These prospects have grabbed VCs' attention."

The article notes the increasing level of research activity, government and private financing, and interest by the investment community, and surveys important work by companies ranging from giants like IBM and Hewlett-Packard down to start-ups such as Nantero.

Looking farther ahead, the article makes the somewhat incredible claim that, while nanorobots are hypothetical, "most scientists believe there will be some form of "molecular assembler" within the next 20 years, and that the device will serve a concrete purpose." The article then follows a typical pattern in presenting of the ideas proposed by Eric Drexler, followed by the "grey goo" willies of Bill Joy, and the distancing dance skeptics perform when confronted with long-term possibilities of advance molecular nanotechnology. The article quotes Josh Wolfe of Lux Capital, a nanotech-oriented venture capital firm: According to the article, Wolfe said he has seen plenty of business proposals based on such ideas, but he considers them implausible.

"It's utter nonsense–thoughts that you can change the economy because you can manufacture things instantaneously at your desk by just hitting a button," Wolfe said. . . . As far as Wolfe is concerned, any technology based on the "Drexlerian vision of nanotech"–that is, the self-replicating assembler–should be put in its place. These far-out ideas should "promote ethical debates and get people involved," but "investors should not be looking at that type of thing," he said.

[Thanks to David Wallace Croft and Patrick Underwood for posting a notices about this item.]

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