Why did Smalley change his mind?

This submission is of interest given previous comments by Eric Drexler on the politics of nanotech research discussed in July.

MartinBaldan writes "Hi, I'm afraid it's a bit late for this, but I've found a piece of Smalley's previous position on MNT and it was rather opposed to the one he holds now: [1]

Ed. Note. The format of the Smalley web site has changed and so links to older URLs on it appear to be invalid at this time. The reference has been pulled out of the Internet Archive (without figures) and is now located here:

1. http://www.aeiveos.com/~bradbury/Authors/Engineering/Smalley-RE/dallas12-96.html Martin continues with some quotes:

"If you could get down to that nanometer level, and craft the object with atomic precision, the power of your ability to control the behavior of this object would become immense."

"Imagine what our world would be like if we really could construct on the dry side, without water and living cells, objects with the degree of atomic perfection that life achieves routinely on the wet side. Imagine for a moment the power of what I like to call the "dry side" of nanotechnology. The list of things you could do with such a technology reads like much of the Christmas Wish List of our civilization."

"But the technologies on this list are in a sense, CHEMISTRY in big, bold type: an atomically precise technology that lets you build elaborate structures on a scale of 1 to 100 nanometers. Structures that can go out do things that are really important – like storing information, switching electrical signals, converting sunlight to electricity, transporting electricity in super-strong cables for thousands of miles without loss, and converting this electricity into stored chemical energy and back again in the batteries and fuel cells of the 21st century, and on and on and on."

"And I am confident that in almost every area the keys to these technologies are going to come when we start learning how to put things together one atom at a time on the nanometer scale.

We've got to learn how to build machines, materials, and devices with the ultimate finesse that life has always used: atom by atom, on the same nanometer scale as the machinery in living cells. But now we've got to learn how to extend this now to the dry world. We need to develop nanotechnology both on the wet and dry sides. We need it urgently to get through these next 50 years. It will be a challenge. But, I am confident we will succeed."

Martin asks:

By the way, there's a link to this Smalley article in R. Merkle's nanotech website:http://www.zyvex.com/nano/ but it's broken. You are suggested to search the website of Smalley's research group (Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology): http://cnst.rice.edu/ but there's no search option on that website."

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