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Foresight Update 23.29: Open Questions on Feynman's Path to Nanotech - July 16, 2009

Discuss these news stories at http://foresight.org/nanodot and http://www.opensourcesensing.org/blog.

Top News of the Week

Feynman's Path to Nanotech (part 6): Open Questions

Taking Feynman's Path to nanotech, or even studying it seriously, would require finding answers to a number of open questions. These questions, however, are quite important and knowing the answers will be invaluable in understanding the envelope of possibilities for future manufacturing technology…

In this issue:

From Open Source Sensing:

Foresight Events – Lectures
Foreseeing Future Technologies - Join Foresight
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Moral railroads (update)

I wrote in the Moral Railroads post that the key to trustable systems is that they work right. A recent post at Metblogs points out one reason they may have failed: overregulation because of the demonization of a substance…

Feynman's Path to Nanotech (part 3) - Self-replicating Machines

So why hasn't the Feynman Path been attempted, or at least studied and analyzed? One possible reason is that there still seems to be a "giggle factor" associated with the notion of a compact, macroscale, self-replicating machine using standard fabrication and assembly techniques. Although studied in the abstract since von Neumann, and in physical systems in biology over roughly the same period, kinematic self-replicating machines remain poorly characterized as a field of engineering…

Feynman's Path to Nanotech (part 4) - MEMS

Another reason the Feynman Path may not have been tried is the perception that a machine-based approach has been tried in the form of MEMS, and that standard machine designs do not work at this scale and below due to stiction…

Feynman's Path to Nanotech (part 5) - Is it Worth Starting Now?

Surely, you will say, it would have been wonderful if back in 1959 people had taken Feynman seriously and really tried the Feynman path: we'd have the full-fledged paraphernalia of real, live molecular machinery now, with everything ranging from nanofactories to cell-repair machines…

Surely by the time a Feynman Path, started now, could get to molecular scale, the existing efforts, including the pathways described in the Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems, would have succeeded, leaving us with a relatively useless millimeter-sized system with 10-micron sized parts?

No — as the old serials would put it, a thousand times no…

Will the stars align for space-based solar power? - Ars Technica

Nice overview of the current status. Nanotech can only help…

Feynman's Path to Nanotech (part 7) - Plan of Attack

There are at least two major parts to a project to implement the Feynman Path. The first is essentially to work out a roadmap for the second. In particular,…

—Nanodot posts by J. Storrs Hall

From Open Source Sensing:

Sensor network is parasitic on living trees

Following up on our "they really will be everywhere" theme, Laurie Sullivan of RFID Journal reports that sensor networks do not even need direct solar energy to operate now…

Smartphone sensing in privacy-aware environments

Steve Omohundro brings to our attention a talk at PARC on a sensing system that pays some attention to "privacy-by-design", apparently…

Scenarios of pervasive sensing & intelligent environments

Prof. Vic Callaghan of University of Essex (UK) brings to our attention a paper addressing issues of privacy and intelligent environments, which includes a number of scenarios that help make vivid what the future is bringing. His email is worth a read…

The Economist on mobile phone sensing pluses & minuses

Alexandra Carmichael, co-founder of the open source health research site CureTogether, brings our attention to a piece in The Economist summarizing *some* of the current work on sensing using mobile phones. It concludes…

Sousveillance as citizen "undersight" raises tough questions

Worth reading: h+ Magazine is featuring a piece by well-known wearable computing pioneer Steve Mann on the concept of sousveillance. It begins…

—Open Source Sensing by Christine Peterson

Foresight Events – Lectures

Foresight Lectures

July 30, 2009
Singularity University
Mountain View, California
Christine Peterson will moderate a panel on time horizons in an accelerating world, for Singularity University participants.
Click here for conference details

August 20-22, 2009
Gnomedex: a technology conference of inspiration and influence
Seattle, Washington
Christine Peterson will speak on life extension.
Click here for conference details

Foreseeing Future Technologies

Advancements in technologies such as nanotech, robotics, and biotech are promising to make major differences in our lives in the not-too-distant future, as the Industrial Revolution did to the agrarian world — to do for the physical world what the computer and Internet have done to the world of information.

Since 1986, the Foresight Institute has been in the forefront of a worldwide community of visionaries who work to help shape these possibilities into a positive, beneficial reality. If you would like to help us understand the potential of these technologies, and influence their direction, please consider becoming a member of the Foresight community. With your support, Foresight will continue to educate the general public on these technologies and what they will mean to our society.

To join:
http://foresight.org/members/index.html

More Events

Converging Technologies for 21st Century Security
Organized by the Institute of Nanotechnology
November 25, 2009
The Royal College of Physicians, London, UK

Organised crime, terrorism, civil conflict, and natural disasters are sadly commonplace in global society and have developed increasingly complex dimensions. To counter such threats, civil security and emergency response teams are looking towards new technologies that offer more sensitive, rapid, and accurate detection methods; that provide the means to neutralise or effectively deal with the outcomes of such incidents; and that provide greater protection to personnel.

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