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Time estimates for nano developments 2008-2021

As part of the EC-funded Nano2Life program, Aharon Hauptman and Yair Sharanhaupt of the Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis and Forecasting (ICTAF) at Tel-Aviv University have written a 39-page report titled “Envisioned Developments in Nanobiotechnology” based on a survey of 139 experts from 30 countries. The 50% median date estimate from “experts and knowledgeable” for sample statements among the 20 tested are as follows:

2008: Nano-agents for analysis inside cells
2013: Nanotools for manipulation inside cells
2015: Self-repairing in artificial systems
2018: In vitro construction of human organs
2021: Nanomachines inside the body

Also surveyed for each development were expected impact, commercialization prospects and limits, and actions needed to enhance likelihood of realization. The full paper should be posted on the ICTAF site soon, but meanwhile here are some slides (pdf). Or if you need it urgently, email me. —Christine

19 Responses to “Time estimates for nano developments 2008-2021”

  1. ADBatstone Says:

    These dates are Kurzweilian fantasy, not science. Not a chance in hell of happening by then.

    Here’s my dates.

    2087: Nano-agents for analysis inside cells
    2092: Nanotools for manipulation inside cells
    2094: Self-repairing in artificial systems
    2097: In vitro construction of human organs
    2100: Nanomachines inside the body

  2. Christine Peterson Says:

    To ADBatstone: I don’t know which dates are correct, but since you are so firm in your opinion, how about pledging not to take advantage of these developments if they arrive before you project? That would be putting your health where your mouth is, one might say. ;^) —Christine

  3. Thisisanick Says:

    Kurzweilian fantasy ?
    You are too lenient, my friend.
    This is more like a mad scientist’s dream out of a horror movie.
    While technically the concept of nanotechnology offers many possibilities, I fear its human, moral and ethical dimensions are sorely overlooked, and perhaps we should replace some of the people ‘in charge’ of envisioning our future.

  4. James Green Says:

    Attagirl Christine!!

    Thank you for saying what thousands of us would like to say to these doubters!

  5. ray ray Says:

    I kinda’ agree with ADBatstone. I don’t think it’s right to wish ill health on the poor guy because of his more conservative time table. The political realities combined with the necessary health/efficacy studies of Nano solutions will undoubtedly delay their use by the masses.

  6. Christine Peterson Says:

    To Thisisanick: The best way to replace those whose work you disagree with is to do a better job. The study in question was done in Israel on EC funding. Those wishing to carry out competing studies should by all means do so, and let us know here at Nanodot so we can publicize them.

    To ray ray: Far be it from me to wish ill health on a Nanodot reader! However, there is an element of self-fulfilling prophecy in making time estimates, and ADBatstone’s dates, if taken seriously, would discourage innovation. (Just my two cents.)

    Thanks to all who post comments on Nanodot items, whether they agree with me or not. –Christine

  7. Nanoman Says:

    Here is my own timeline, just an estimate:

    Mechanochemical Macroscopic Assembly Systems: 20teens-2020′s
    Microscopic Output, Mechanochemical Assembly Systems: 2010′s
    Mass Produced Carbon Nanotube “Polymers” stronger, harder, tougher, lighter and more flexible than steels: 2010s
    Limited Cell Repair Machines: 2020s-2030′s (micro machines before then?)
    Viable Molecular Nanocomputer Arrays = 2010s – 2020s
    Advanced Quantum dot computers = 2020s

  8. Nanoman Says:

    By the way, is it true that Doctor Drexler is now working on computer aspects of nanotechnology, like someone claimed a while back? Does Foresight plan to release an Engines of Creation II?

  9. Nick Says:

    Sometimes I cannot belive how niave some people are, a couple of points to consider, some of the richest, oldests and most powerful men in history are alive right now and can clearly see just on the horizon the potential for much longer, healthier lives and they dont care about which country they live in (conveniance only they live where the law/gov/social controls work best for them and their interests) or the ethics and moral issues, they care about power and long health life to enjoy it.

    Be blind to this if you like…your choice but there are lots of places where rich powereful interests can set up shop and push any agenda they like and the potentail for this new paradim is absolutly clear to these interest… we may not see all of it but it will arrive faster and in ways I dont think we really understand yet.

    Yes I know just being paranoid………………………..

  10. Robert Bradbury Says:

    The study contains quite a bit of interesting information. Most important may in fact be the discussion of areas where there was a significant amount of disagreement on when certain advances would become reality. One does not know whether the naysayers were the people who were informed or uninformed in specific areas. Thus there is no way of judging if the opinions are based upon knowledge with respect to how easy or hard specific developments may be.

  11. Christine Peterson Says:

    To Nanoman: For a recap of Eric Drexler’s recent work, see his talks at our October conference, and also his personal website at

    Regarding Engines of Creation II: I have not heard that Eric is planning this. I would like to try my hand at such a book, and have been trying to get to it for years, but would need to be relieved of other duties here at Foresight in order to have time. –Christine

  12. michael vassar Says:

    I remember hearing about EOC II 6 years ago and thinking it was desperatedly needed. If there is funding for such a project I would be happy to take it on.

  13. Robert Bradbury Says:

    What could EOC II say that hasn’t already been said in EOC, Unbounding the Future, Nanosystems, various published and in process volumes of Nanomedicine, Mind Children, The Singularity is Near, and more than a few science fiction novels (Stephenson, Bear, Egan, Nagata, Stross, Williams, etc.) that take nanotechnology quite seriously?

    It seems that there is already *more* literature out there than people can read/study. Either people understand biology and understand that molecular nanotechnology *is* feasible (and its things like the lack of large numbers of nanoscale designs and robust parallel assembly methodologies that are missing) or they don’t.


  14. Nanoman Says:

    Thank you for the replies.

    I am going to be hosting a Nanotechnology discussion forum this coming Friday at around 11 and 12 PM Eastern Standard time, on Pal Talk, a live discussion chat forum.

    You can download paltalk for free at
    The nanotech discussion will be in the Social Issues section.

  15. ADBatstone Says:

    “The political realities combined with the necessary health/efficacy studies of Nano solutions will undoubtedly delay their use by the masses.”


    We will not see “nanomachines in the body” until after 2100.

    From where we stand, advanced nanotechnology is at this moment, science-fiction vaporware. Nanobots and other speculative nanotechnologies won’t exist this century. After so many years of hearing about it, people are just NOT convinced. It’s all horse.

  16. Christine Peterson Says:

    It’s perfectly fine to have your own opinion on this, ADBatstone, but I say to you again, are you willing to put your health where your mouth is, and pledge not to use these technologies if they arrive early? If you are 100% certain, as you indicate, there should be no problem with this. If you aren’t, then you should be making less vehement statements. —Christine

  17. David Lucas Says:

    I think it’s funny that the original article predicts that these things come into existence in a 13-year time range and pessimist ADBatstone predicts the same 13-year time frame, but starting 79 years later. Hell, I plan to be around for both.

    Here’s my opinion: the peaking of global oil has the potential to seriously slow research and global dissemination of information. I believe the dates of these developments depend more on our ability to find a suitable ‘replacement’ for oil before its price strangles economies rather than governments and citizens distrusting of nanoscience in general.

    Also, the first predicted date of 2008 for nano-agents for analysis inside cells- I disagree. I have a fairly good idea that it will be the latter portion of this year. Of course, the ‘analysis’ at first will tell us basically what at-home pregnancy tests tell us now, that is, yay or nay, but it is a start.

  18. haldean Says:

    Troll Alert. Please, don’t waste your time replying to Abatstone. He has no interest in debate, he has no interest in opposing points of view. His only agenda is to feed his own diseased, over inflated ego. He has been doing precisely the same thing at for a long, long time.

  19. Rachel Says:

    Interesting article by Ray Kurzweil with empirical showing the timelines for Nanotech development.

    See articles below – look for:
    The Law of Accelerating Returns by Ray Kurzweil

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