Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Ripples in the Nanoblogosphere

Well, now, where to begin? My recent rantings have rippled up and down the nanosphere and have had a far larger influence on the public debate over nanotech's future than I had ever expected. Scary. I'll take it from the top, but stay with it until the end, since there's a narrative flow with a bizarre ending.

I wrote a column in Small Times. Mark Modzelewski of the NanoBusiness Alliance, wrote an opposing column in Small Times. Both were excerpted in this blog entry, which I'll further encapsulate here:

Then the nanoblogosphere (I just made up that term) rumbled and roared:

Chris Phoenix of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology:
"Politics these days seems to be more about smearing your opponents than about presenting actual facts. Mark Modzelewski says that we've cooked up a conspiracy theory with a "devious cabal." What we actually said is that the wording was changed deliberately and blatantly."

Chris will likely have more to say in a letter to the editor for the next print edition of Small Times magazine.

From a blogger who chooses to remain anonymous:
"I resent this insuation. It's totally inaccurate. I work out of my mom's den, not her basement."

From blogger DF Moore
The idea of Drexler's nanobots is indeed a cool one. I agree. It seems exciting. But it would be ridiculous to base national nanotech policy on achieving something that, as I said before, no one has shown any scientific reason as to why they should work and plenty of people have shown scientific reasons as to why the won't work. The commercial approach that we have now works well. It allows the field to develop on many different tangents and in all directions.

From blogger Marc Goodner
"I think this act is another example of government largesse to corporate interests, no surprise from this administration. If this money had gone to academic research, and the ip to the public domain, without preordained conclusions society would be better off."

Chris Peterson of the Foresight Institute, writing in Nanodot:
"Note to Mark M.: it is a risky thing to make fun of bloggers--they can make a difference. Just ask Trent Lott, the former Senate majority leader."

Robert Bradbury, writing in my discussion section:
"The problem Howard is that tens of millions of lives, perhaps even yours, are likely to be on the line depending on how fast robust molecular nanotechnology (of the Drexlerian type) develops. I'm one of the few people who has actually tried to sketch out a possible development path with costs."

Glenn Reynolds, writing in Tech Central Station:
"I think that if the nanotechnology business community, because of the PR strategy that it has chosen, finds itself scissored between the scientists and visionaries on one side, and the environmentalists on the other, it will have cause to regret its rather shortsighted PR strategy."

Then, it gets really bizarre on Glenn's InstaPundit, in which Mark shot off this letter:
"Clearly being educated man, I can hardly even fathom how you take Drexler's fantasies and turn them into reality in your head. As far as our "pr strategy" as you call it-its not so much pr strategy as a 'reality strategy.' I don't promote nor spend much time worrying about science fiction and frankly don't even view the zettatechnology/molecular manufacturing/Foresight folks thinking as on the table in the environmental debate. I am clearly not between two poles, as your misguided views on the subject frankly don't constitute a pole in the landscape as far as I see it. I would say my skills as a long time political damage control specialist leave me -all ego aside - a little better skilled then Howard Lovy or yourself at these type of things. So just the same, I will actually be the one with a degree of sympathy here. Keep fighting the -strange-if not good fight for your lost cause."

And that brings us to the present. Any questions?


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