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Foresight Institute Stage 2: Implementation

Archival Page—Content Superseded

Foresight Institute Adopts New Mission

The proposals described on this page were developed in late 2003 and announced in Foresight Update 53. The proposals below, however, were eventually altered after leadership changes and as a result of a reevaluation of Foresight's strategic plan that was done during the second half of 2004. Recently, Foresight announced a new mission. For more details, see About the Foresight Nanotech Institute and the Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges. If you would like to contribute to specific projects and initiatives that Foresight is developing: see Foresight projects for directed giving. To personally experience Foresight in action, attend Foresight's next conference: Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology: Focusing on the Cutting Edge, 13th Foresight Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology.

Foresight Legislative Action Proposal

Project Budget: $90-125,000 annually

Executive Summary

  • The U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative should include, as one of its Grand Challenges, the development of molecular manufacturing, also termed molecular nanotechnology or MNT.
  • Foresight will need to educate key individuals and groups in Washington to make this happen.
  • We need a Washington Representative to do this work.
  • We will need to spend roughly $90-125K per year, over several years, to accomplish this goal.

For the past five years, the U.S. Federal Government had funded and run a "National Nanotechnology Initiative" ("NNI"). The NNI has, to date, spent roughly $2 billion, with the current year's spending being roughly $800 million. The NNI was funded largely based on public enthusiasm for the original nanotechnology vision of physicist Richard Feynman: molecular manufacturing using molecular machines building with atomic precision. Despite this, the NNI has done no work aimed at the goal of molecular manufacturing, nor is it on the NNI list of Grand Challenges.

Molecular manufacturing should be a major purpose of the NNI, and making this happen will be the primary purpose of Foresight's legislative action over the next several years. Policy work on MNT benefits and drawbacks will not be taken seriously until federally-funded research in this area has begun.

As with most legislative action, there are those in DC who oppose our goal, in this case because they prefer to have funds directed at nearer-term technologies with less controversial applications. However, we feel confident that we can reach our goal, due to the very strong public interest in the positive uses of MNT, especially for medicine and the environment. Ultimately, what the voters want can be made to matter in DC, with enough work. We propose to do that work.

Our legislative action on the 2003 nanotech bill, begun very late in the process, was partially successful despite the late start: the final bill includes a study of "self-replicating nanoscale machines or devices" by the National Research Council. Early drafts also featured a technical study of "molecular manufacturing," but this changed to "molecular self-assembly" by our opponents in DC very late in the process. This illustrates three points: (1) despite our late start, we got some of what we wanted, (2) we need to push continuously to accomplish our DC goals, not work in fits and starts, and (3) we have powerful opponents and therefore must strategize carefully.

A plan of action for pursuing our goal has been submitted by Foresight's former Washington Representative, and can be reviewed with interested donors. A proposed budget is attached.

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Foresight is limited in the amount of funds it can spend on this project. These limitations will be followed to avoid problems for our nonprofit status.

Contact Christine Peterson, Foresight Institute President, for details: or tel 650-917-1122.

Comparison of Proposed 2004 Outlays

Preferred Schedule of Outlays


Absolute Barebones Schedule of Outlays

Amount of
Type of Outlay Period of
Total   Amount of
Type of Outlay Period of
$6K/month DC rep's time 12 months $72K   $6K/month DC rep's time 12 months $72K
$800/month COBRA (health insurance) for DC rep and his family. 12 months $9.6K   $800/month COBRA (health insurance) for DC rep and his family. 12 months $9.6K
$1500/month Taxes (estimated). 12 months $18K   $3K Monies to move DC rep to D.C. 1 time $3K
$500/month Office rent. 3 months $1.5K          
$5K/month Payment to second contractor, part time 3 months $15K          
$3K Monies to move DC rep to D.C. 1 time $3K          
$100/month Cell phone bill. 12 months $1.2K          
$60/month Metro fare. 12 months $0.72K          
$180 Copy of current Federal Yellow Book. 1 time $0.18K          
$200/year Subscription to Roll Call. 12 months $0.2K          
$125/year Subscription to The Hill. 12 months $0.125K          
$60 Copy of current Almanac of American Politics. 1 time $0.06K          
$400/quarter Quarterly trips to Palo Alto for planning, annual meeting. 1 year $1.6K          


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