MeetUp: Radical Abundance, with Eric Drexler, the founding father of nanotechnology

This event marks the publication of the eagerly-anticipated book,“Radical Abundance: How a Revolution In Nanotechnology Will Change Civilization”, by K. Eric Drexler, the founding father of nanotechnology.

In this book, Eric Drexler explores the coming revolution in nano-scale engineering, and how it will change the world as we know it.

London Futurists are very fortunate that the author has agreed to speak at this specially arranged meeting, to cover key themes from his book.

Extract from the introduction to Radical Abundance:

“Imagine what the world might be like if we were really good at making things – better things – cleanly, inexpensively, and on a global scale… The global prospect would be, not scarcity, but unprecedented abundance – radical, transformative, and sustainable abundance. We would be able to produce radically more of what people want and at a radically lower cost – in every sense of the word, both economic and environmental.

“What if industrial production as we know it can be changed beyond recognition? The consequences would change almost everything else, and this new industrial revolution is visible on the horizon. Imagine a world where the gadgets and goods that run our society are produced not in a far-flung supply chain of industrial facilities, but in compact, even desktop-scale machines. Imagine replacing an enormous automobile factory and all of its multi-million dollar equipment with a garage-sized facility that can assemble cars from inexpensive, microscopic parts, with production times measured in minutes. Then imagine that the technologies that can make these visions real are emerging – under many names, behind the scenes, with a long road still ahead, yet moving surprisingly fast.”

About Radical Abundance:

K Eric Drexler developed, named and popularized the concept of nanotechnology – the science of engineering on the molecular level. InRadical Abundance, Drexler shows how rapid scientific progress in this field is about to transform our world.

Already scientists have constructed prototypes for circuit boards built of millions of precisely-arranged atoms. The advent of this kind of atomic precision promises to change the way we make things – and enables us to do so cleanly, inexpensively, and on a global scale. It allows us to imagine a world where formerly costly products like solar arrays and laptops cost no more than cardboard and aluminium foil. The results of these changes will shake the very foundations of our economy and environment.

In Radical Abundance, Drexler explores the dazzling possibilities of this brave new world and guides us through the current and future landscape of nanotechnology. Topics include:

  • The nature of science and engineering, and the prospects for a deep transformation in the material basis of civilization
  • The technologies of radical abundance, what they are, and what they will enable
  • His personal narrative of the emergence of the molecular nanotechnology concept and the turbulent history of progress and politics that followed
  • Solutions for problems of economic development, energy, resource depletion and the environment
  • Potential pitfalls in competitive national strategies in nanotechnology development and his vision for shared interests in risk reduction and cooperative transition management.

The publication date is 23rd May:

About the speaker:

Often described as “the father of nanotechnology,” Eric Drexler set the technical direction for the field in his seminal 1981 paper in theProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which established fundamental principles of molecular engineering and outlined development paths to advanced nanotechnologies.

In his 1986 book, Engines of Creation, he introduced a broad audience to the fundamental technology objective: using machines that work at the molecular scale to structure matter from the bottom up. Drexler’s research in this field has been the basis for numerous journal articles and a comprehensive, physics-based analysis in his textbookNanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation.

In his publications and lectures, Dr. Drexler describes the implementation and applications of advanced nanotechnologies and shows how they can be used to solve, not merely delay, large-scale problems such as global warming.

Dr. Drexler served as Chief Technical Advisor to Nanorex, a company developing design software for molecular engineering. In addition, he writes about nanotechnology and other topics on his blog, He has worked in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund to explore advanced nanotechnology solutions to global problems such as energy scarcity and climate change. Recently, Drexler served as Chief Technical Consultant to the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems, a project of the Battelle Memorial Institute in conjunction with several US National Laboratories. He is currently an Academic Visitor at Oxford University.

Drexler was awarded a PhD in Molecular Nanotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (the first degree of its kind).

For more details, see


Thursday, May 30, 2013

7:00 PM to 

Torrington Place, WC1E 7JE, London (map)

Lecture Theatre Roberts 106, on the first floor

Entrance fee: GBP4.00/per person

The meeting will be held in the Roberts Engineering Building of UCL. This building is on Torrington Place, WC1E 7JE, almost directly opposite the large Waterstones Booksellers. The nearest tube stations include Goodge Street, Euston Square, and Russell Square: all are within five minutes walk.

For precise directions, see the map

The meeting is taking place from 7pm to 9pm on Thursday May 30th in Lecture Theatre Roberts 106, on the first floor.

(This is one floor above the smaller lecture theatre, G08 Sir David Davies, that was previously publicised as the venue.)

After the meeting, attendees are welcome to continue informal discussion in a nearby pub, The Marlborough Arms, 36 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HJ.

Optional pre-meeting rendezvous – please feel free to join a small number of regular London Futurist attendees at the Marlborough Arms any time from 5.30pm onwards, for general chat over a light snack and/or drinks. To find us, look out for a table with a copy of Eric Drexler’s book on it.

Covering meeting costs:

A small fee is payable to attend this meetup. This fee covers room costs.

The fee is £4 if paid in advance, at the time of RSVPing. (This will be refunded if the meeting is cancelled or rearranged, or if the attendee cancels at least 3 days before the meetup.)

Alternatively, if there are still seats available, payment can be made in cash at the door on the day – in this case, the fee is £5. (Requesting payment in advance assists with accurate planning of the event.)