Tuesday, December 16, 2003

'All The News That's (---) To Print'

The New York Times is running a letter to the editor from Eric Drexler in today's Science section. In it, Drexler responds to last week's NYT piece on the molecular manufacturng debate. Drexler believes the reporter framed the issue improperly by focusing, again, on "nanobots," rather than his real molecular manufacturing ideas.

However, according to a note Drexler forwarded to me, the Times discarded a key quote from his letter and modified the last sentence, thus failing to completely set the record straight.

Here's a link to today's edited letter as it appeared in the New York Times (You'll need to register for free to read it), and below is the original, unedited text of the letter, as sent to me by Drexler:

    To the Editor:

    Re: "Yes, They Can! No, They Can't,'' (Dec. 9): The article says the nanotechnology debate is about "whether it is possible to build a nanobot.'' This ignores the central issue - the feasibility of molecular manufacturing - in which nanobots play no role. Indeed, the article quotes my statement that nanofactories will use "no swarms of roaming, replicating nanobots.''

    The article neglects critical policy and security issues. Molecular machinery will increase manufacturing productivity a million-fold, yet our national nanotechnology effort now excludes work toward this goal. In a competitive world, continuing this policy would amount to unilateral disarmament.

    Focusing on imaginary nanobots may appeal to a fraction of your readers, but it leaves the serious science and policy issues unexamined.

    Dr. K. Eric Drexler
    Los Altos, Calif.


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