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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 #5     YOU ARE HERE

Thirty Essential Nanotechnology Studies - #5

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 #5 What is the performance and potential of nucleic acid manufacturing and products?
  Nucleic acids fold and self-assemble into predictable three-dimensional shapes. Motors and truss-like structures have already been built. Several families of nucleic acid polymer are being investigated, including DNA, RNA, and PNA (peptide nucleic acid). Modifications including polyamide (nylon-like) backbones have been demonstrated for increased strength. A robotic system based on this might go beyond self-assembly to active templating or programmable assembly. This might form the basis for a programmable manufacturing system capable of building complex products from simple parts.
Subquestion Can required nucleic acid sequences be calculated directly from the desired shape of the resultant parts?
Preliminary answer This has already been done, with a bit of human post-processing, for the recent single-strand octahedron.
Subquestion Can a mechanically actuated system be built to allow for programmable assembly of simple sequences (reducing the complexity and number of input sequences)?
Preliminary answer Almost certainly. The required precision appears feasible.
Subquestion What would be the speed and accuracy of such a manufacturing system?
Preliminary answer Compare with current accuracy for DNA synthesis and binding in sensors.
Subquestion What would be the performance of machines built of nucleic acids, including strength, power handling, and digital logic?
Preliminary answer DNA is fairly weak; PNA is stronger but has less chemistry developed to handle it; DNA with polyamide backbone has already been demonstrated. The system will also be limited by packing/conjugation strength unless a cross-linking chemistry is used. DNA-conjugation actuators are likely to be weak, but other actuators could probably be integrated.
Conclusion More research will be needed to tell whether this technology can be revolutionary, but it looks promising so far.
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?
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?
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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