"Potatoes, lumber and wheat are agricultural prducts use self-replicating manufacturing base.  Costs ~$1 per pound.  Molecular manufacturing will make almost any product for a dollar per pound or less, independent of complexity (design costs, licensing costs etc not included)"
Ralph Merkle

The first day a nano sized self-reproducing robot (and its trillions of offspring) arrives, every contemporary manufacturing process and all the required laborers will be rendered potentially obsolete.

The Nanocomputer

"in the future we'll pack more computing power into a sugar cube then the sum total of all the computing power that exists in the world today."
Ralph Merkle

The Nano-Revolution

Nanocomputer Dream TeamBut how soon wiill this be? And how easy to achieve? Despite the claims of a number of nano-enthusiasts, the full transformation will certainly not happen overnight .  As with the computer revolution, which is perhaps the nearest analogy we can have to what the nanotech revolution will be like, the first units will probably be large (in nano terms that is), slow, inefficient, expensive, and user-unfriendly.  From that first halting stage, progress is likely to be rapid, perhaps exponentially so.

Just as the room-sized Eniac and other 1940s and 1950s "electronic brains" with their overheating valves,  flashing lights, and reels of tape - the stars of all those B-grade 1950s sci fi films - gave way to the smaller and faster transistor-based computers, and those in turn to the smaller, faster, and more efficient again microprocessor desktop units, upto the Pentiums and Pentium IIs of the present, so we can expect first generation nanotech will be replaced by second generation, and that by third, each generation becoming faster, cheaper, smarter, more powerful, more user-friendly, until finally the scenarios suggested here are commonplace.

Carbon - the building material of the future   the uncertain future

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text by M.Alan Kazlev
page uploaded 7 November 1998, last modified 24 May 2003