Nanotechnology: Research and Perspectives
The papers collected in this volume evolved from presentations made at the First Foresight Conference on Nanotechnology held in Palo Alto, California, in October, 1989. This meeting, the first to directly address the technical challenges and social consequences of molecular engineering, brought together individuals from disparate areas of technical and societal research to discuss and debate the emerging field of nanotechnology. The material presented at that gathering has been transcribed, edited, and, in several cases, substantially revised and rewritten by the participants. The present volume is the culmination of those original talks and subsequent discussion and reflection.
From one point of view, nanotechnology is simply a descriptive term for a particular state of our species’ control of materiality. At some point (seemingly in the next few decades) we will be able to create complex systems and structures whose individual components are best measured in billionths of a meter. This capacity arises as part of the natural evolution of homo faber’s deep seated urge to manipulate matter. But the potential power of nanotechnology offers not only a quantum leap in our capacity to mold matter to our will but also a qualitative reorganization of our interactions with the world. If indeed it becomes possible to inexpensively create cubic-centimeter computers processing 1014 million instructions per second (MIPS) and self-reproducing, submicron industrial robots, what material reorganization won’t be
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