Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Drexler: 'Bait and Switch -- The Coverup'

Dear Howard,

DrexlerYou recently wrote that --

    "A reader affiliated with the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office challenged me recently on some of my commentaries on molecular manufacturing as a policy goal. The reader said that government funded research on "nanoscale manufacturing" is already under way, pointing me to these projects ... As the NNCO reader pointed out, though, there is research going on in molecular manufacturing -- even government-sponsored research ..."
You have been misled by your nameless reader. These projects will not result in molecular manufacturing because they don't aim to develop systems of nanomachines that fabricate atomically precise products by mechanically positioning and joining molecules. Saying that this sort of "nanoscale manufacturing" (lithography, microscale chemical engineering, etc.) is molecular manufacturing is like saying that a paper airplane is a passenger jet. The misrepresentations continue.

It's interesting to see how quickly the story is changing. One day we're told that there's no issue because the goal is impossible; the next day we're told that there's no issue because research is already underway. Amazingly, the NNCO sponsors no research whatsoever aimed at the original goal of nanotechnology. With this policy, it cannot deliver on the original promise of the field or fulfill the widespread expectations held by the public. Pretending otherwise compounds the damage.

Best Wishes,
Eric Drexler

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