Nano

Femtocomputing

Femtocomputing

My goal in this essay is an ambitious one: to show how the properties of quarks and gluons can be used (in principle) to perform computation at the femtometer (i.e. 10^-15 meter) scale. This is admittedly highly speculative and theoretical material -- but it's all within the domain of science, and given the reality of exponential advance, may well become practical technology sometime in this cent...

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Why We Could All Use a Heavy Dose of Techno-optimism

Why We Could All Use a Heavy Dose of Techno-optimism

At a recent TED Conference, a dinner was organized by the Edge Foundation, a think tank and nonprofit that celebrates big ideas. The theme of the evening was the "New Age of Wonder," and the discussion drew comparisons to the Romantic Age, the period between 1770 and 1830 when science and art were friends. It was a time when astronomers and poets were in some ways indistinguishable, as artists wer...

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Mitigating the Risks of Artificial Superintelligence

Mitigating the Risks of Artificial Superintelligence

“Existential risk” refers to the risk that the human race as a whole might be annihilated. In other words: human extinction risk, or species-level genocide. This is an important concept because, as terrible at it would be if 90% of the human race were annihilated, wiping out 100% is a whole different matter. Existential risk is not a fully well defined notion, because as transhumanist technol...

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Everyone’s Guns: Tech, Terror, and the 2nd Amendment

Everyone’s Guns: Tech, Terror, and the 2nd Amendment

In the months before 9/11, I had a chat with a pal about toting heat: Me: “So you think everyone should have a gun?” Him: “Yes. Everyone has the right to carry any weapon. The right to bear arms.” Me: “What if someone wanted to tote a fully-automatic in the shopping mall?” Him: “Even a machine gun. We’ve got the right. You should be able to have a motherfucking nuclear bomb if you want t...

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Future Foglets of the Hive Mind

Future Foglets of the Hive Mind

The concept of utility fog – flying, intercommunicating nanomachines that dynamically shape themselves into assorted configurations to serve various roles and execute multifarious tasks – was introduced by nanotech pioneer Josh Storrs Hall in 1993. Recently in H+ Magazine, Hall pointed out that swarm robots are the closest thing we have to utility fog. This brings the concept a little bit closer t...

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Eat the Futurists

Eat the Futurists

Futurism (pop prediction, not the proto-Fascist art movement that idolized engines, aeroplanes, kerosene, and pain) is inherently sloppy. There always exists a tension between observation of the present, and extrapolation into a version of the future built on various kinds of faith. An observation: processors are getting smaller. In fact they're getting so small so quickly, that their eventual foo...

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Nanotechnology and Surgery: A Surgeon’s Perspective

Nanotechnology and Surgery: A Surgeon’s Perspective

Nanotechnology is the material science of objects under 100 nm in size. Over the last decade, we have come to realize that the oldest nanotechnologist alive is Mother Nature- a five billion year-old expert, who has found optimal molecular pathways to solve problems of energy (plant “solar cells” through photosynthesis, or mitochondria synthesis), hardness and elasticity (Google “nanomechanics o...

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Toward Intelligent Nano Factories and Fogs

Computer scientist and futurist thinker J. Storrs Hall has been one of the leading lights of nanotech for some time now.  Via developing concepts like utility fog (see the figure below) and weather machines, he has expanded our understanding of what nanotech may enable.  Furthermore, together with nanotech icon Eric Drexler he pioneered the field of nano-CAD (nano-scale Computer Ai...

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