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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 #27     YOU ARE HERE

Thirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies - #27

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 #27 What effect could this have on geopolitics?
  Explore the impact that molecular manufacturing will have on the current habit of maintaining sovereign nations.
Subquestion What would be the effects on international relations of reduced international trade, especially in oil?
Preliminary answer Reduced demand for oil from the Middle East probably would be highly beneficial to international relations. Reduced international trade in general probably would not be beneficial, since it would reduce the interdependence of nations.
Subquestion Can a technology-driven arms race be stable?
Preliminary answer Probably not. See study #20 for analysis of how and why a nano-weapons arms race would be more unstable on several counts than the nuclear arms race has been.
Subquestion What would be the effects of nationwide changes in lifestyle and personal resources? How quickly could those effects happen?
Preliminary answer We might predict a lower birth rate, substantially lower death rate, and greatly increased healthspan. Access to more information could produce better democratic governance, or simply more distraction and disinterest. Other effects should be studied.
Subquestion To what extent will these technologies require worldwide policing? What problems does worldwide policing create?
Preliminary answer An unrestricted nanofactory anywhere in the world could be used to build weapons of mass destruction with global reach. For this reason alone, it appears that either the technology or its users absolutely must be restricted/policed, unless (which we believe unlikely) it turns out that defense is superior to offense for all product technologies (see study #20).
  Policing, unlike military occupation, requires that the population accept the legitimacy of the force. No legitimate worldwide policing organization exists today. Nations cannot police each other sustainably. But many nations cannot police themselves. To the extent that international policing is required, it will add to social unrest unless a new structure is developed that can coordinate and support national policing efforts while retaining national sovereignty.
Subquestion What is the possibility of preemptive strikes to prevent development in other nations?
Preliminary answer Each nation will see only a few possibilities: 1) an arms race that will probably be unwinnable since it will develop into a disastrous war (see #20); 2) developing ahead of everyone else and establishing dominance; 3) some other nation developing earlier and establishing dominance; 4) international cooperation and trust sufficient to ensure safety; 5) a multinational organization willing and able to keep the peace.
  Option 1 is undesirable; Option 3 is probably unthinkable for any of the current large powers; Option 5 is probably unacceptable to the U.S., as the world’s sole superpower; Option 4 may be seen as unfeasible. Only one nation can succeed at Option 2. This implies that a preemptive strike option (whether military attack, or sabotage or derailment of nanotech development efforts) will appear very attractive to a number of powerful nations.
Subquestion What barriers to international cooperation could make these problems more difficult to solve?
Preliminary answer Culture clash, lack of trust, xenophobia, religious fundamentalism, grandiose or aggressive national leadership. Increased information and reduction in poverty could reduce these factors eventually, though it could also reduce the interdependence that provides one incentive for cooperation.
Conclusion Molecular manufacturing technology is powerful enough to require new ways of interaction between nations.
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?
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?
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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