The Foresight Nanotech Institute -- a pioneering nanotech think tank -- takes another step toward relevance in the world of today, rather than a vague "when molecular manufacturing is reality," in partnering with Battelle on its roadmap to "productive nanosystems." The map, to put it simply, is a plan to get us from here to there and there to here (I guess that's the Dr. Seuss version)
Foresight has been correctly criticized in the past for failing to draw up what exactly will take us from nanopants to nanobots, except a vague idea that a scientific miracle will happen and the nano age will begin.
Last December, I asked the question: "Will they engage in the political and public process or will they continue to lick their wounds while remaining completely oblivious to the relevant opportunities that surround them?"
Sounds like they've answered, although I doubt my criticism was the sole reason. Earlier, in May, the institute adopted some core challenges it plans on addressing, challenges that get at the heart of the hopes and fears that surround nanotech both in the short term and long term. Addressing issues surrounding energy, the environment, human life, information and space travel, the institute planted itself firmly into ground being covered today while also leaving room for its long-term vision.
I asked Foresight founder and vice president Christine Peterson whether molecular manufacturing would be de-emphasized, or whether long-term vision would still a part of the group's mission.
"Yes, definitely," she answered. "Rather than a de-emphasis of that topic per se, I would put it another way -- that our mission has broadened to include the near-term and mid-term, including applications in those timeframes and the policy issues involved."