Radical Abundance: Will Liberty Survive the Atomically-Precise Manufacturing Revolution?Submitted by Micah68 on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 03:18
A few weeks ago I attended a science lecture in an old downtown church. The audience was riveted, despite the hard wooden pews and odd sounds coming from the plumbing and heating in the place, as the 'founding father of nanotechnology', K. Eric Drexler, described the coming revolution which will fundamentally transform our world in staggering fashion, similar to the Agricultural, Industrial and Information Revolutions that have preceded it.
Despite the term 'nanotechnology' losing its focus and clarity of meaning in the last couple decades, with it being broadened to include things like material science for various political reasons, the original thrust of the idea (as presented in Drexlers's 1986 book, 'Engines of Creation') was Atomically-Precise Manufacturing, or APM.
As Drexler explains further in his latest book, Radical Abundance, APM will allow us to:
- take inexpensive, common, abundant raw materials
- put them into a factory in a box (scaled to the size of the product you want to make)
- have the box assemble the product with digital, atomic precision
- output the product in extremely short order, given the advantages of molecular machines being able to complete their motions more rapidly, due to mechanical scaling laws
- do this with no waste or pollution and at reduced energy costs
With this capability, we will be able to end the current global supply chains needed for manufacturing that were set up during the Industrial Revolution, decentralizing manufacturing to these local 'factories in a box'.
We will no longer need scarce materials like copper, lead, tin, iron as we can produce lighter, stronger, more conductive, etc. materials as needed from carbon, silicon, etc. which are readily available.
It doesn't take much imagination to realize the tremendous implications this technology will have for bringing abundance of material goods and production efficiencies to the entire world, bringing down barriers to cheap and frequent spaceflight, ending use of fossil fuels through extremely efficient solar cells, improving health and extending life with it's medical applications, allowing the reversal of environmental degradation, increasing computing power a billion-fold, etc.
Consider this from Drexler: "The potential material standard of living enabled by APM-level technologies is perhaps best left to imagination for now. The base level stands somewhere above a world-wide abundant supply of the best of every kind of product manufactured today." (emphasis mine)
With these rewards will also come increased capabilities for authoritarians to operate a surveillance state, project lethal or non-lethal coercive force. There will also be a debate about what products should be allowed to be made with this technology, and who will control that and how.
- with this revolution (which may be coming more quickly than you realize), will Liberty stand a chance of surviving?
- there will be a clamor for a new centralized, globally coordinated effort to manage this technology, in order to 'keep us safe' from the potential downsides while reaping the blessings
- is this going to be the vehicle for global governance to more fully emerge?
- how do the AnCaps among us propose to manage the deployment of this technology? Does there need to be any regulation, policy-making of any sort? How should it be implemented?
- will the elite allow us peasants to actually experience the blessings of this technology? Or will they hoard it for themselves, jettison the masses of laborers they no longer need -- cull the diseased, impoverished herd so they can go to the stars without us?
- do we have any voices in the Liberty movement who are beginning to discuss how we can adapt to this revolution?
It will be interesting to see how history unfolds, as this double-edged sword begins to be used for good and for ill.