from the invitation-for-discussion dept.
JeremyTurner writes:
"October 26, 2001…
Dear Nanodot members and readers,
I was just wondering if the Nanotech initiative will eventually cover an arts/cultural wing? Some individuals such as myself eagerly await the creative benefits towards the Arts and Entertainment industries…In fact, K. Eric Drexler mentioned towards the end of his "Engines of Creation" book that the end-goal of an advanced nanotechnological civilization would be the proliferation of performance and interdisciplinary art. I am worried that due to the recent climate, most of the research will go towards defense and security and little towards health, strategic diplomacy, the environment and culture…Any thoughts on how our country will utilize this emerging technology to our creative benefit? I was also wondering if those outside the United States will benefit and how long would it take for a trickle down effect to occur once corporations such as the Texas-based Zyvex make that ultimate breakthrough?
Best regards,
Jeremy Turner"

[Editor's note: the mandate for the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (currently) includes a component to examine the "societal implications" of nanotechnology. To date, the most significant result of this part of the initiative has been a NSF report issued early in 2001.]

Cheap 3D printers for the home

from the shape-of-things-to-come dept.
WillWare writes "Eugene Leitl posted this story by New Scientist to the nsg-d list, regarding recent advances in stereolithography and other 3D printing techniques, particularly the innovation of printing multiple materials in the same session. Some tantalizing quotes from the article:

Geometric complexity is largely irrelevant… You can design the internal and external geometry of a part, and its electrical, mechanical and thermal properties exactly how you want them to be.

Dickens says he knows of a number of companies who are looking at mass-producing 3D printersfor less than £1000 apiece… They could be available within a couple of years if one of the companies decided to go for it.

At the current exchange rate, £1000 is $1440. It is quite likely that such printers will be very popular. If large numbers of people buy one, much of what we normally imagine as the nanotech post-scarcity economy will appear overnight. 3D printers will offer an early preview of some of the important challenges of nanotech.

The intellectual property issues involved will be essentially identical to those of nanotechnology. Toy companies (and others previously engaged in manufacturing) will fight against the AutoCAD-file version of Napster. The status of patents and other mechanisms of IP protection will come under scrutiny.

There will doubtless be circulating CAD files for guns, knives, and other dangerous trinkets, and an associated rash of urban legends (recall Monty Python's "spring surprise"). This will provoke thought and discussion which will later pertain to military and terrorist applications of nanotechnology.

It's a good thing to see these issues come into the public eye in a context far less dangerous than nanotech. The task of public education will then require only the elucidation of what differentiates nanotechnology from 3D printer technology."

Found on Slashdot: world languages in 21st century

from the Spanglesi-spoken-here dept.
James Murdoch (crown prince of father Rupert Murdoch's enormous News Corp. media empire, which includes Fox TV and movies, the Times of London, the worldwide Sky TV satellite service, and tabloid newspapers everywhere) offers his take on the future of language in big media and on the Internet over the next decades. Rather than an English-dominated mediasphere, he sees four major languages dominating: Mandarin (835 million native speakers), English (470M native, fewer than 800M as a second language), Spanish (330 MNS), and Hindi (300 MNS). He points to the influence of global media on standardization of language (broadcast Spanish from Chilean television is replacing native Rapanui on Easter Island, for example).

"100% Recycled Electrons" is no joke

from the who-says-it's-not-easy-being-green? dept.
AlterNet reports that the Internet is already having tremendous positive effects on the environment: "The emerging new economy created by the Internet is producing more than just a business revolution — it is also generating enormous environmental benefits…. While the nation's economy grew by more than 9 percent in 1997 and 1998, energy demand stayed almost flat in spite of very low energy prices, marking a major departure from recent historical patterns."

2020 Visions: The Next Twenty Years conference 2000

from the the-future-arrives-too-soon-and-in-the-wrong-order dept.
WIRED reports on the 2000 installment of the Next Twenty Years discussion series. The SF participants included Paul Saffo (of the Institute for the Future), Stanley Williams (HP Labs), and Bill Gurley (Benchmark Capital), who all gave their views of general societal trends, and also reported their predictions for specific goodies to be on hand by 2020: home electric fuel cells that will enable you to go live off the grid anywhere; gigabyte email attachments; and "browsable desktop economies".

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