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Current Results of Our Research

These pages, marked with GREEN headings, are published for comment and criticism. These are not our final findings; some of these opinions will probably change.   LOG OF UPDATES 

CRN Research: Overview of Current Findings   

bulletTimeline for Molecular Manufacturing   
bulletProducts of Molecular Manufacturing
bulletBenefits of Molecular Manufacturing
bulletDangers of Molecular Manufacturing  
bulletNo Simple Solutions
bulletAdministration Options
bulletThe Need for Early Development
bulletThe Need for International Development
bulletThirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies
bulletStudy #16     YOU ARE HERE

Thirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies - #16

Overview of all studies: Because of the largely unexpected transformational power of molecular manufacturing, it is urgent to understand the issues raised. To date, there has not been anything approaching an adequate study of these issues. CRN's recommended series of thirty essential studies is organized into five sections, covering fundamental theory, possible technological capabilities, bootstrapping potential, product capabilities, and policy questions. Several preliminary conclusions are stated, and because our understanding points to a crisis, a parallel process of conducting the studies is urged. 

CRN is actively looking for researchers interested in performing or assisting with this work. Please contact CRN Research Director Chris Phoenix if you would like more information or if you have comments on the proposed studies.

Study #16 How rapidly could products be designed?
  What skills and time are required to design a new product? These questions will be answered for products of diamondoid systems based on the Phoenix nanofactory design.
Subquestion To what extent can components be re-used between products?
Preliminary answer As noted in Nanosystems and explored in “Nanofactory,” a convergent-assembly system combining relatively large (e.g. 200-nm) functional blocks should allow a few basic types of blocks to be built into many different products. Most product designers will not have to worry about chemistry or special nanoscale physics.
Subquestion To what extent can low-level design be automated?
Preliminary answer Levels of abstraction should allow design on the level of volume-filling specification of nanoblocks. All lower levels can be computed, right down to the mechanosynthesis.
Subquestion How quickly and cheaply can product prototypes be built?
Preliminary answer As quickly and cheaply as any finished product. The manufacturing steps can be computed from the CAD specification of the product. There's no distinction between prototype production and mass production. This also implies immediate rollout/deployment once a product design is finished—no retooling, retraining, or design-for-manufacture.
Subquestion How directly applicable are current engineering methods?
Preliminary answer Once a set of designs is developed to emulate familiar macro-scale structural and functional components, crude products could be developed directly with current engineering methods (with some advantages such as effectively infinite tolerance and 'smart' materials). More sophisticated products requiring micro- or nano-scale design may require new methods, though even here the designer's job will be made easier by careful choice of lower-level components.
Subquestion What new engineering methods (e.g. fault tolerance, emergent architecture) need to be invented to use this technology?
Preliminary answer Fault tolerance will be a requirement. However, the extreme compactness and efficiency of actuation and computation will allow massive overdesign and redundancy. For example, a single computer may fail, but the incremental cost of three—or even 100—parallel voting computers will be negligible in most applications.
Emergent architecture and complicated software architectures will not be necessary for products comparable to today's in functionality.
Mass-saving structures will be desirable, especially in aerospace applications. Fractal trusses and inflatable compression members are two simple possibilities.
Conclusion Design of products comparable to today's cutting edge may be even easier than today's design methods.
Other studies 1. Is mechanically guided chemistry a viable basis for a manufacturing technology?
2. To what extent is molecular manufacturing counterintuitive and underappreciated in a way that causes underestimation of its importance?
What is the performance and potential of diamondoid machine-phase chemical manufacturing and products?
4. What is the performance and potential of biological programmable manufacturing and products?
5. What is the performance and potential of nucleic acid manufacturing and products?
6. What other chemistries and options should be studied?
What applicable sensing, manipulation, and fabrication tools exist?
8. What will be required to develop diamondoid machine-phase chemical manufacturing and products?
9. What will be required to develop biological programmable manufacturing and products?
10. What will be required to develop nucleic acid manufacturing and products?
11. How rapidly will the cost of development decrease?
12. How could an effective development program be structured?
What is the probable capability of the manufacturing system?
14. How capable will the products be?
15. What will the products cost?
Which of today's products will the system make more accessible or cheaper?
18. What new products will the system make accessible?
19. What impact will the system have on production and distribution?
20. What effect will molecular manufacturing have on military and government capability and planning, considering the implications of arms races and unbalanced development?
21. What effect will this have on macro- and microeconomics?
22. How can proliferation and use of nanofactories and their products be limited?
23. What effect will this have on policing?
24. What beneficial or desirable effects could this have?
25. What effect could this have on civil rights and liberties?
26. What are the disaster/disruption scenarios?
27. What effect could this have on geopolitics?
28. What policies toward development of molecular manufacturing does all this suggest?
29. What policies toward administration of molecular manufacturing does all this suggest?
30. How can appropriate policy be made and implemented?
Studies should begin immediately. The situation is extremely urgent. The stakes are unprecedented, and the world is unprepared. The basic findings of these studies should be verified as rapidly as possible (months, not years). Policy preparation and planning for implementation, likely including a crash development program, should begin immediately.

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