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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 #23     YOU ARE HERE

Thirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies - #23

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 #23 What effect will this have on policing?
  Determine how difficult it would be to make and enforce laws if novel products are readily available through molecular manufacturing.
Subquestion Could a 'home appliance' version of the manufacturing technology be used to produce undesirable products?
Preliminary answer Yes. Just download the blueprint from the Internet. It could be as easy as printing a picture from a Web browser today.
Subquestion Could medical advances lead to new and controversial pleasure devices/drugs?
Preliminary answer Yes. Although the chemistry may not be able to make medical chemical compounds, it could make very sophisticated surgical robots. For example, 'acupuncture needle' type probes (with antibiotic surfaces) that can be used for direct brain stimulation ('wireheading') with relatively low medical risk. Or new kinds of sexual appliances.
Subquestion How easily could a black market in these technologies be maintained?
Preliminary answer For some, more easily than today's drug market.
Subquestion How well could lawmaking keep up with newly invented products?
Preliminary answer Whole new classes of pleasure device? It'll be hard even to decide what's socially acceptable and what's not.
Subquestion How much would new weaponry endanger police?
Preliminary answer See the study on military implications (#20). There won't be parity between police and criminals. If criminals have access to advanced weapons, any flesh-and-blood policeman will be in the position of a civilian and police would have to depend on systemic incentives not to kill them. The next likely alternative is that police become paramilitary—SWAT team or "Robocop" —or use remote sensor nets and telepresence.
Subquestion How would the 'arms race' between invention and detection/defense affect crime? Terrorism?
Preliminary answer Criminals and terrorists tend to be stupid and unimaginative, but so do bureaucracies. A smart bad guy would find a large range of new opportunities. Again, it'll be difficult to 'harden' civilian targets against crime as well as destructive attack.
Law enforcement expert Tom Cowper suggests that "the biggest unknown is how effective the public police can become—effectively stopping criminals while effectively preserving civil liberties. This is where concepts such as Net-Centric Policing/Government come into play." In previous conversations with us, he's argued that a key factor is whether we or the terrorists become better at using networks, "augmented reality", and other tech tools.
  More from Tom Cowper on this topic: "The issue of molecular manufacturing (MM) mandates dramatic improvements in the way we do policing in the free world. If we are to maintain a free society in an MM world we will have to become very effective at identifying, stopping and incapacitating criminals and terrorists of the future, and do so in a way that does not violate civil liberties. Admittedly a tall order. But as CRN has pointed out, a police state is one definite possibility for the future if government and law enforcement doesn't get its act together and find ways to provide both safety and security, which includes regulating MM to some extent. We don't have to become entirely paramilitary to accomplish this but we will have to employ advanced technologies, including MM created weapons and IT capabilities like TIA. One of the things that we have to keep in mind is the understanding that MM won't exist in a vacuum. The future world within which MM will exist will also be a world where MM will facilitate and be facilitated by advanced AI, macro-robots, intelligent environments, cybernetics, etc. Within that world, our notions of privacy and liberty, derived exclusively from Agricultural and Industrial Age circumstances will have to change. Brin's Transparent Society is one future concept within which effective policing might be capable of providing both safety and liberty. There may be others."
  CRN thinks Tom's emphasis on police (as opposed to military) as a counter to terrorism is worth further attention. Most counterterrorism involves interaction with civilian populations, and police will do that more sustainably than military (both at home and abroad).
Conclusion Distributed manufacturing of advanced products will pose several substantial challenges to traditional police operations.
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?
16. How rapidly could products be designed?
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?
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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