February 29 2008 / by futuretalk
Category: Technology Year: General Rating: 12
Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is virtually indistinguishable from magic.” Enter humanity’s newest plunge into magic – molecular nanotechnology.
Whether you fear it, welcome it, don’t understand it, or think it’s too crazy to be true, this most hyped science of all time promises a utopian future with no food shortages or disease, and a world of leisure and indefinite lifespan for everyone on Earth.
To achieve this remarkable future, researchers must first create a tiny microscopic-size robot assembler that can grab individual atoms and organize them into items. Futurists at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology predict that the first assembler will be developed between 2010 and 2020.
The next step, experts say, is to build a small countertop machine called a nano-replicator with billions of assemblers inside, which can be instructed to extract atoms from waste materials or something as plentiful as dirt or seawater, and reassemble those atoms into food, appliances, clothing, or other desired products. Positive futurists believe that nano-replicators could be working in U.S. homes by 2025.
In their book, Revolutionary Wealth, Alvin and Heidi Toffler argue that we are on the verge of a post-scarcity time that will slash poverty around the world. Futurist Steve Burgess agrees. In an on-line essay, he predicts that nano-replicators will launch an era of abundance for everyone. (cont.)
Nano-theorist Robert Freitas, in a recent Lifeboat Foundation interview, claims that molecular nanotech will wreak havoc with economies of every nation in the world. With products available free from nano-replicators, humans will become pure consumers without need to produce goods or provide services. This will eventually reduce the value of human labor to zero.
However in this futuristic nano-world, forward-thinkers believe that there will be little need for money. All living costs could eventually be eliminated; and even expenses for public projects like roads, buildings, and government activities would be abolished with tomorrow’s nano-assembler technologies.
Freitas adds, “Not only will nanotech provide us with a lot of cool stuff and eliminate global poverty; it will also help us achieve a much longer lifespan.” He predicts that by 2010, nano-products will diagnose illnesses and destroy cancer cells and by late 2020s, tiny cell-repair mechanisms will roam through our bodies keeping us strong, youthful, and forever healthy.
Most gerontologists agree that aging, and therefore “natural” death occurs when the body’s cellular structure cannot repair itself. Cell-repair machines will allow us to rejuvenate damaged cells, eliminate disease and heal injuries. In addition, since aging is a result of accumulated tissue destruction, it will be possible to undo or reverse damages already inflicted. The young will remain young; the old will become young.
As molecular nanotech matures, its impact will affect nearly everyone. Labor-free products from replicators could devastate economies and many governments are scrambling for ways to manage the impact of this technology.
Clearly, the road to molecular nanotechnology winds around unknown, possibly even dangerous turns. However, strong commerce and government support continue to drive this revolution forward and it will unfold in our lifetime. Futuristic? Certainly. Possible? Absolutely. This science promises to change our lives beyond our wildest dreams. Get ready Gang, for a most amazing “magical future.”