Nanotechnology: From Feynman to the grand challenge of molecular manufacturing
Peterson, C. L.
Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE
Vol. 23, Num. 4
Nanotechnology has two definitions: near-term exploration and adaptation of material properties occurring at the nanoscale and molecular manipulation and assembly of matter at nanoscale (MNT). Peterson, an officer at the Foresight Institute, reminds her readers that the Foresight Institute has taken a position on the debate about nanotechnologies. The benefits of control from the bottom up caught the imaginations of scientists and politicians alike and funding streams for nanotechnology began.
Then scientists began to consider whether MNT was, in fact, possible, and if so, if it should be at the "funding table." A heated debate ensued. Peterson argues that we are at a crossroads with regards to nanotechnology. The NNI, she suggests, is not working towards MNT but will inevitably do so, taking up the Feynman Grand Challenge. She suggests that the US needs to look at intellectual property issues and how to control the possibilites for weapons proliferation. She dismisses fears that self-replication will be possible or permitted, and urges restraint with rhetoric of "science as savior."