Visionary Congressional report on nanotechnology

Visionary Congressional report on nanotechnology

Nanowerk brings our attention to a new report by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress titled Nanotechnology: The Future is Coming Sooner Than You Think (pdf), apparently authored by Senior Economist Joseph V. Kennedy and sponsored by Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ). On molecular nanosystems:

At this stage a single product will integrate a wide variety of capacities including independent power generation, information processing and communication, and mechanical operation. Its manufacture implies the ability to rearrange the basic building blocks of matter and life to accomplish specific purposes. Nanoproducts regularly applied to a field might search out and transform hazardous materials and mix a specified amount of oxygen into the soil. Nanodevices could roam the body, fixing the DNA of damaged cells, monitoring vital conditions and displaying data in a readable form on skin cells in a form similar to a tattoo. [Link added. –CP] Computers might operate by reading the brain waves of the operator.

On the Singularity:

Technology is likely to continue, but at this stage some observers forecast a period at which scientific advances aggressively assume their own momentum and accelerate at unprecedented levels, enabling products that today seem like science fiction. Beyond the Singularity, human society is incomparably different from what it is today.

The Republican angle shows up near the end:

But policymakers should not fool themselves into thinking that a collective political process can guide the future any better than the market can. Regulations need to be based on clear cost/benefit calculations supported by scientific evidence. And regulations to address specific identified risks should not delay the advancement of a broad range of products that will surely bring large social and economic benefits.

Here’s a familiar-sounding assertion, at least to Foresight members:

Whether or not one believes in the Singularity, it is difficult to overestimate nanotechnology’s likely implications for society.

Yes indeed. —Christine

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  1. Kurt9 March 30, 2007 at 11:25 am - Reply

    I think the development road map is optimistic. it projects that we go from where we are now to complete nano-sytems by 2020, a meer 13 years. I think this unlikely. What is expected in 2020 is more likely for 2030 or 2040. A 30 year development period seems much more plausible.

  2. Christine Peterson March 30, 2007 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Kurt — I meant to mention that the timeframes shown for the different development stages, which I think the report took from Mihail Roco of NSF, are his timeframes for research, not commercial products. —Christine

  3. Patrick McCray March 31, 2007 at 5:52 pm - Reply

    If the version I looked at was correct, the report identifies a nanometer as one-millionith of a meter. This dosen’t bode well…

  4. Battleshield April 2, 2007 at 10:58 am - Reply

    It’s nice to see formal government acknowledging the coming events (Singularity or near Singularity). I wonder if documents like this will further push Futurist discussions out from the realm of the enlightened few and into the mainstream public consciousness…..

  5. John DeCicco April 10, 2007 at 8:20 pm - Reply

    It is nice to see. A journey of a thousand miles…


  6. Phillip Huggan April 17, 2007 at 8:52 am - Reply

    The mainstream public needs to know about the Singlarity/near-Singularity if it is to happen this Century. Not so much if it winds up being a post-21st Century phenomenom.

    From the MNT angle I’ve encountered more technically sound communications/readings with/from mainstream surface scientists than with “the enlightened few” futurists. These scientists are immune to the circular reasoning of mature diamond tools building mature diamond products.
    Computer modelling will advance at some point to level where it can aid in prototyping MNT-tools rather than MNT-products…but not for quite some time.
    There may be a nearer-term “Singularity” of consumer junk, aided by MNT-less nanotech advances. Consumer products typically require less extreme tolerances than those for industrial or research applications.
    For those expecting the Singularity to grant them extreme longevity advances, it would make better sense to vote for parties holding progressive stem cell research, immigration, and “non-bankruptcy” policies. I know, not welcome advice at it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if this accurate and correct statement that happens to be political, is moderated.
    I’ve yet to see any nano-organizations help their own progressive cause by disawoving Republicanism.

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