The initial goal of Foresight Institute has been achieved: the potential of molecular nanotechnology and its applications are broadly understood by a large number of people. Next comes Stage 2: Implementation—making molecular nanotechnology (MNT) happen sooner rather than later.
Activities to Meet Objective
A three-pronged appoach of independent but related efforts will be pursued: Direct Research, Legislative Action, and Community Building. These are worth doing as stand-alone actions, but multiply if done simultaneously.
1. Direct Research
Due to the substantial increase in computing power over recent years, molecular modeling experiments to support MNT are far more affordable than previously, with larger systems accessible to modeling. Two proposals have been received; summarized below. Budget assumes we select one, not both:
A. Prof. Ralph Merkle and Robert Freitas: Ralph is now a Distinguished Professor of Computing at Georgia Tech; Robert is a Research Scientist at Zyvex. They have proposed a 4-5 person team of top researchers at a total budget of $5 million over five years to complete detailed designs of tools to build stiff hydrocarbons into molecular machine components and produce journal articles and graphics showing construction of molecular machine components. The goal is to describe a complete set of molecular tools/reactions, validated using appropriate computational chemistry software. This would provide a powerful basis for NNI and other funders to consider molecular factories as worthy of mainstream funding.
B. J. Storrs Hall, PhD: Josh has proposed a program for designing and making movies of molecular machine parts and systems, including new design software, with a budget ranging from $50,000-$350,000 per year, with results in proportion to personnel and budget.
While traditionally the high-tech industry has avoided involvement in DC, this is worth reconsidering now that the federal government has committed $3.7 billion to nanotechnology over four years. Lobbying would enable us to get some of this spent on MNT—almost certainly far more than the cost of the lobbying. Our new Washington Representative Tim Kyger, who has performed well in his initial efforts, has submitted a proposal to get MNT included in a major way in the NNI.
Foresight operates as a community-building tool for MNT, encouraging new researchers to join the field, connecting potential collaborators, and inspiring students with positive applications they care about—from medicine to environment to space. The organization also helps address possible objections to MNT through its public policy work—vital if we are to avoid the type of problems seen in GMO and stem cell research. Foresight maintains credibility by acknowledging and suggesting solutions to potential negative uses of MNT.
Foresight is already the leader in MNT community-building but much more is needed, both in terms of new functions and stengthening already-successful operations. The following activities will be continued and, where appropriate, expanded: Foresight Research Conferences (including new Student Outreach), Foresight Update newsletter, Nanodot weblog, Prizes (Feynman Grand Prize, Feynman Annual Prizes, Communication Prize, Student Prize).
The following additional actions will be added ($500K, one time):
DVDs, Mpeg, streaming video of molecular factory tutorials, free for teachers and students, $50K
Self-serve online courses for college and high school students, $50K
Direct mail campaign to pro-technology individuals, outreach and partnering with other organizations, membership goal of 50,000 in two years: $150K
Topic SIGs (medicine, environment, space), Local chapters in North America and elsewhere, $100K
Above plan provided by Brian Wang includes $250K to cover appoximately first six months of five new hires (after six months assumed to be covered by increased membership, continued fundraising, and grants): Executive Director, Video content creator, Marketing/Communications Director, Grant proposal writer/fundraising manager, Office Administrator.