The Foresight Institute honored me tonight with its 2004 Prize in Communication.
Here's the text of my acceptance speech, which was very well-received. Some of the references are inside-nano-baseball jokes. I'll add links if there's time later:
"My fellow Drexlerians … pseudo-pundits … panderers … cranks … crackpots … and other denizens of our moms' basements …
"Thank you very much for honoring me with what my 13-year-old daughter calls the "Dork of the Year" award.
"She, and everybody else, tells me I'm obsessed with nanotechnology. Guilty. But I look at it much differently than most of you in the room. I'm not obsessed with it as a technology, as a science, as a means of saving or destroying the world, or making a quick buck, or gathering government grants, plotting world domination. That's not what I do. Nanotechnology to me is, pure and simple, a … great … story. It's a story that contains, within it, many chapters large and small. My God, it's a story of grinches and greed, it's a story of men and women with vision, it's a story about humankind's relationship with the world around, it's a story mushing molecular objects together like, in the words of a great nanoscientist, "boys and girls in love."
"I'm obsessed with nanotechnology in the same way that I become obsessed with every single facet of any story I cover. It's the only way I know how to write something with true understanding. In a previous journalism life, I wrote about the Mideast peace process. When I had the chance to dive into nanotechnology, I thanked God for the chance to cover science, rather than war and peace – where things are clear-cut, where it either is, or it ain't, and there really can't be much argument over it.
"Boy was I wrong. Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat? They're like those overpolite cartoon chipmunks compared with Drexler and Smalley. My goodness, you are a great story.
"Here's where I ran into trouble, though. As a journalist, I just can't help it. I seek out the minority opinion, those who march on the wrong foot – as I did when I was in the high school marching band – those who say that nanotech is going in the wrong direction, or has been hijacked by other interests. You go where the story takes you. My cranky, old journalism professor – of the old school, with the ink-stained fingers, is always the voice in the back of my mind. "If your mother says she loves you, check it out."
"Or, perhaps my motivation is much less lofty. I don't know. You know. If it bleeds it leads.
"So, I led … and I bled. And I have … no … regrets.
"I want to thank everybody at the Foresight Institute for this great honor, But, and I hope you will take this in the spirit with which you have given me this honor, you need to remember that I am not your friend. It's just a matter of time before I write something that does not please you, if I haven't already. When I do, I hope you'll remember that I am only displaying the kind of independence that you all have encouraged in me by honoring me with this prestigious communications award.