Speaking at the inaugural public lecture of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, Dr Eric Drexler said there is a compelling case for the viability of atomically precise manufacturing. This is the process of building structures, tools and machines starting at the molecular level, with atomic precision, to address challenges such as rising greenhouse gases and energy production for our growing population. (H/T Foresight)
A methodology grounded in physics and engineering can answer a limited yet illuminating range of questions about the potential of physical technology. This line of inquiry leads to a crucial question: What can physics tell us about the potential of advanced nanotechnologies? Well-established physical principles show that this potential embraces productive nanotechnologies that have the potential to transform the material basis of civilization. This prospect calls for re-evaluating both research opportunities and broader choices with consequences for the human future.
Eric demonstrated the power of atomically precise manufacturing, using the fabrication processes of ribosomes as an example. We are only beginning to be able to manufacture at this level, but, he argued,but, a physics-based analysis shows that the possibilities offered by nanomanufacturing could be immense: desktop computers with 1 billion processors or materials 100 times stronger than steel.