Nanotechnology "nanofactories" may not be far away

Nanotechnology "nanofactories" may not be far away reports that nanotechnology is bringing dramatic advances:

Imagine not having to go to the doctor when you are sick. No medicine, no popping pills. Instead, tiny cell-like machines in your body would already be at work manufacturing medicine and delivering it exactly where it is needed.

University of Maryland researchers say these ‘‘nanofactories” may not be that far away.

Nanofactories are pseudo-cells that are swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, and travel to a specific location in the body. What’s unique about the tiny biochemical factories is that they could potentially use materials already in the body to manufacture medicine at the first sign of infection or disease.

While these sound great, they are not what most of us think of when we hear the term “nanofactory”. Wikipedia explains:

A nanofactory is a proposed system in which nanomachines (resembling molecular assemblers, or industrial robot arms) would combine reactive molecules via mechanosynthesis to build larger atomically precise parts. These, in turn, would be assembled by positioning mechanisms of assorted sizes to build macroscopic (visible) but still atomically-precise products.

Thus we see again what we saw with the term nanotechnology itself: a long-term definition migrating to a near-term usage. Evidently this happens frequently with attractive-sounding terms. We’ve grown to accept it, but this tendency makes it hard to discuss long-term technological proposals. I saw someone recently attempting to head this off by trademarking their term, but that looked rather odd.

To summarize: how can we be fairly confident that “nanofactories” may not be that far away? Because it’s a cute word, so someone doing something near-term will use it for their work. QED. —Christine

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One Comment

  1. Bruce Bautista April 9, 2007 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    I am a self study researcher on the implications of exponentially accelerating growth in technology and the economy at the macro and micro levels. To quote a pop culture music group from a bygone era “I’m a Believer”.

    When I do mind experiments the extrapolations become mind overwhelming when I try to envision the implications of nanotech across the multiple fields that it’s application affect.

    So, the only thing that I think needs to be first understood in a deep and essential way is

    “What types of problem solving skills will be needed to innovate product & service life cycles for the delivery ever increasing utility in a super exponentially accelerating technology economy environment?”
    The reason I ask this question is because not only will physical systems manifest exponentially but knowledge systems will as well.

    This implies that an individual need only have a strong motivation to accomplish some goal and then access and employ the readily available knowledge and technologies to realize the goal in a rapid manner.

    So again, “What skill sets will anyone need in order to work for a basic living in this environment?

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