Eight nanotechnology scenarios sketch possibilities

Eight nanotechnology scenarios sketch possibilities

CRN has been working on eight scenarios for advanced nanotechtechnology, and they are now available. You can get a quick feel for them by their titles:

Scenario 1: Secret Military Development
Scenario 2: Positive Expectations
Scenario 3: Negative Drivers
Scenario 4: Presidential Commission
Scenario 5: … And Not a Drop to Drink
Scenario 6: A Goal Postponed
Scenario 7: Newshound Notebook
Scenario 8: Breaking the Fever

I have only started to read them — it takes a while — but I can predict that one common reaction may be that the dates are too soon. If that is your reaction, just insert dates that you find plausible, and continue reading. You can get value from the ideas separately from the dates. The point of scenarios is to stimulate thinking, not to make exact predictions.

And yes, technology scenarios tend to read like science fiction. Remember: when you’re looking far ahead in technology, if what you come up with seems like science fiction, it might be wrong…but if it doesn’t, it’s definitely wrong. The goal is to explore possibilities. —Christine

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  1. Jamais Cascio December 11, 2007 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    Christine —

    Just so you know, we were aware when designing the scenario process that the timeline was aggressive. That was intentional, for two reasons. The first is that, although it’s aggressive, it’s not impossible, so thinking through what might bring about MM earlier than expected can be useful. The second, and more important, reason was that the further out we project for the scenario as a whole, the harder it is to make it plausibly useful. We might reasonably argue that MM isn’t likely until (say) 2030, but there’s so much that could happen by 2030 in other technological and social realms that the scenarios wouldn’t really be of much value. Frankly, 2020-2025 is pushing it in some ways.

    Still, you’re absolutely right to note that the goal is to stimulate conversation, not make hard & fast predictions.

  2. Christine Peterson December 12, 2007 at 2:44 pm - Reply

    Thanks, Jamais, for that useful clarification. –CP

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