Monday, October 25, 2004

Foresight insight outta-sight

Photo by Adam Keiper

It's been a wild couple of days, and I have a great many stories to tell after the Foresight Institute's First Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology. I spent the entire time gathering material, interviewing people, getting to know more sources and preparing for my own presentation at the conference. It seemed to go well, although I definitely lack the polish of a person who presents at conferences all the time. I'm much more comfortable covering conferences as a newsman, rather being a part of them. A lot of people reacted favorably, though. Also, it sounds as though Foresight is going to engage in the political process a little more, rather than sitting on the sidelines and complaining that they're being excluded. It's a great development, another in a series of developments that make the "nano story" more and more intriguing to tell.

I do apologize to those who might have expected blow-by-blow blogging of every move made, but when I saw that Adam Keiper of The New Atlantis magazine had that covered (and covered very well) in his blog, I let him do all the scrambling around (welcome to my nightmare, Adam), leaving me free to gather information and put some more thought into how I'm going to use it. Boy, this nano story just keeps getting more and more interesting. There's a narrative here involving not only political, technological, scientific and personal clashes among the various players, but some added dimensions that I'm still sifting through. If I wanted to do fiction, I could probably run with what I've got, with very few changes from the true story, and probably have a much-better tale than Michael Crichton's "Prey."

Truth is, however, usually much more interesting than fiction -- yet harder to get. Stay tuned.

The picture above is me interviewing Feynman Distinguished Student Award winner Damian Allis. Damian is what I call "scary smart." A theoretical physicist by day and jazz drummer by night, he is going to contribute greatly to the advancement of nanoscience and world technological progress in general. Really. No exaggeration. Among Damian's many roles, he is an adviser to Nanorex Inc., a nanotech computer aided design company that you probably had not heard of until now. Its founder, Mark Sims, recently gave generously to a new molecular assembler animation put together by Eric Drexler. I'll go more into that later. Sims is pretty much the only entrepreneur working on this kind of computer-aided design, since VCs won't touch it and the government has seemingly determined that the Drexler vision is not possible. In a coincidence that can only be described as Kabbalistic and meant to happen on the subatomic level, his company is based in suburban Detroit and I happened to get a seat next to him on the flight home, where we talked nonstop nano.

As usual, watch this space for more insights on this story that is taking me on a ride further down the rabbit hole and into a deeper understanding of the forces at work inside this bizarre universe of nanopolitics, nanoperception and nanodeception (I told you that I could turn this into a cliche-ridden potboiler, but that would be too easy).

More to come, but meanwhile check out Keiper's coverage of my acceptance speech, my presentation and a video clip of an interview I did with a cryonics client (I haven't seen it, since it only runs on Windows and I'm a Mac cultist).

NanoBot Backgrounder
Thank you, Foresight

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