Thursday, December 31, 2009

True Nanotech may have arrived

From Metamodern, Drexler himself has commented on what I've been thinking for a few months now:

This quote probably sums it all up the best: "The progress I have in mind centers on advances in atomically precise fabrication by chemical and biological means, and these advances now have reached a level that places the implementation of first-generation artificial APM systems within reach. These, however, also won’t resemble slick, large-scale, general-purpose HT-APM systems. Instead, they will support the implementation of more-capable second-generation APM systems that can support a fast design-build-test cycle and thereby enable a well-focused and well-organized develpment program to rapidly ascend a ladder of technologies leading to HT-APM.

Available technologies now enable the design and fabrication of intricate, atomically precise nanometer-scale objects made from a versatile engineering polymer, together with intricate, atomically precise, 100-nanometer scale frameworks that can be used to organize these objects to form larger 3D structures. These components can and have been designed to undergo spontaneous, atomically precise self assembly. Together, they provide an increasingly powerful means for organizing atomically precise structures of million-atom size, with the potential of incorporating an even wider range of functional components."

Did you catch that?

We now have the tools to make the tools that will build real nanotech. Let me clarify, Drexlarian style Mechanosynthesis is now at the stage of where feasibility has been proven, large scale 3d positional assembly has been proven, and the main problem left is an engineering challenge to design the first generation of positional manufacturing devices.

The system is basic. DNA programmed to structurally assemble latticeworks in 2D, Proteins to construct single dimensional "strings". But they offer all the potential needed to create atomically precise structures. Layered 2D sheets built into 3D structures, 1D strings connected side by side into 2D, then layered as well to make 3D.

And because it is based in DNA and proteins, it can do it in parallel in millions of iterations. Yes, it's liquid phase, yes it's limited. But it's the true beginning.

For comparison, I would say it's at the era of punchcard reading computers. And if it follows the same exponential curve that they did, doubling every two years or so, we may still have a few decades before it matures. But with the fact that the Internet allows instant dissemination of designs, sequences, and 3D models, I am not willing to bet it's going to take anywhere near that long.

The last year alone has seemed to have made as much progress in nanotech as the previous eight did. I can't even begin to make a mathematical or statistical measuring system, and it's certainly not going to be as carefully analyzed as a Kurzweil prediction, and I will almost certainly believe that the actual progress might have been more spread out and only being released in a free-er scientific era than the bush regime, but if we follow that 8 to 1 ratio, the next gen of assemblers might only be 46 days away, and gen 3 just 5 days later...

I don't think it will be anywhere near that rapid, but that is the thing with exponential curves. They can sneak up on you fast.

Considering we are already working on macroscale assemblers that use the exact same line joined to line, layer by layer designs in 3D Rapid Prototyping machines, once engineers begin seriously applying their skills... it might not be a hard transition to make at all.

Welcome to 2010. And just maybe... the birth of the post scarcity world.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Been a lot of talk lately about the Google Phone, and how it might impact the mobile carriers and how Google has a tendancy to destroy industries. I've been posting on Gizmodo and Techcrunch about it, and thought I should probably add this to my blog.

I have a theory about Google.

The reason that Google finds ways to destroy industries is because beyond making money, I believe Google has a grand vision that they work towards.

That vision, I strongly suspect, is The Singularity.

Google seems to think not in terms of years, but in terms of decades. Their plans inevitably seem strange or nutty, but in the long term, they almost always turn out to be years ahead of the curve.

Take Google Earth. It's a neat toy, useful for looking at maps, neat how it combines maps and overlays and satellite data and Streetview, and now does stars and planets. It's a great, but not *amazingly* useful little program.

Now anyway...

But let's flashforward five years, to when you are using your VRphone.

When Google Earth is all of a sudden a perfect virtual duplicate of the entire Earth in realtime. When the trillions of Flickr images of every single building in the world have been mined to create identical virtual buildings updated by millions of AR devices in phones, VR lenses, cars, and even street cameras.

Where you can spin the globe, click on a point, and BE THERE not only in VR, but in apparent reality for those who are there via AR apps in *their* VRphones.

So you can live in L.A. and party with your pals in Tokyo.

And that, my friend, is the PURPOSE of the current Google Earth. It's not what it IS, but what it WILL BECOME that is behind Google's madness.

So why would Google release a cheap, unlocked smartphone? To undermine carriers? To make more money? To sell mobile ads?

Yes. But those are just minor reasons to the BIG ONES

Which are?

To increase the size of the mobile web, push innovation of mobile VR and AR apps, speed up the trend of merging your desktop and mobile device, and in a few years, BECOME your VRPhone.

Droid does. Google BECOMES.