Xerox PARC's JSB on nanotechnology

from the yet-another-response-to-Bill-Joy dept.
GlennReynolds brings to our attention a worthwhile essay coauthored by Xerox PARC's director, John Seely Brown, pointing out that "Nanotechnology offers a rather different example of how the future can frighten us. Because the technology involves engineering at a molecular level, both the promise and the threat seem immeasurable…nano devices are theoretically feasible. No one, however, has laid out a route from lab-based simulation to practical systems in any detail. (emphasis added) In the absence of a plan, it's important to ask the right questions: Can nanotechnology fulfill its great potential in tasks ranging from data storage to pollution control, all without spiraling out of control? If the lesson of genetic engineering is any guide, planners would do well to consult and educate the public early on, even though useful nano systems are probably decades away." Query to JSB: Good points. But is there a particular reason why we're assuming such a plan hasn't been prepared?

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