MIT's Rod Brooks: "strong nanotechnology" = sf

from the Rod-please-cut-back-on-the-sf dept.
MIT roboticist Rodney Brooks writes at : "Strong nanotechnology, the version that is most popular in science fiction, has molecular machines which can manipulate matter, disassemble arbitary raw materials atom by atom, and build copies of themselves. We do not know whether the physics of our universe allows such machines to exist, or whether self reproducing machines need to use the molecular mechanisms of biology and must be on the order of billions of atoms in size…We have no evidence that non-biological nanotechnology machines will even in principle be able to manage energy supplies, manipulate single atoms in arbitrary ways, break down raw materials, both decode and copy a description of themselves, implement the computational resources necessary to control their behavior, and avoid being ripped asunder by the presence of other nearby matter. We have no clue when we will be able to answer whether such machines can exist, even in principle. Worrying about whether nanotechnology machines might "get away" from us and eat the fabric of our world, or evolve to do so, seems to me to be on a par with worrying about how the world will fare with the screwups in temporal consistency that will occur once we have figured out how to build time travel machines. Another topic popular in science fiction."

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