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article about Nanotechnology on rationalwiki
So, touching on several points here...

a) Drexler actually talks about the idea of a branching network of devices running through the body (probably via the existing circulatory system) and then out to external devices which could do a lot of the heavy lifting of medical treatment/repair and computation/control without being so limited by the body's issues with too much waste heat and the like. Partly by doing some amount of the work outside the body and then sending the results in via the network, partly by using the network as a foundation for active cooling by pumping fluid through it to carry away waste heat from ongoing operations. IIRC it's mentioned in passing in the notes at the back of Engines of Creation.

b) I have a couple of the Nanomedicine books in hardcopy form, purchased many years ago. They have been coming out a bit at a time and, IIRC, are intended to cover major topics and issues on a volume by volume basis - so that could have something to do with the lack of mention of bio-compatibility in other volumes.

c) Also in the Nanomedicine books, there is mention of different potential control mechanisms for free roaming nanobots. I don't remember if radio waves are mentioned, but ultrasound definitely is, as both a way of sending control signals and possibly also providing power to the robots.

d) On a somewhat different note, I was struck in the course of the discussion by something Rynn said about Drexler and others talking about nanotech or other potential future techs as though they are 'right around the corner' and what 'will happen' and having an issue with that.

Not to pull a 'back in my day' (I'll be 46 this summer - my sense is that I'm significantly older than possibly a fair number of other folks here Tongue), but...when I was growing up (and even before) there was an entire genre of books devoted to talking about what the future might bring. Most of the earlier works focused on the possibility of future spaceflight and the development and colonization of the Solar System (and eventually the stars), some talked about the potentials of artificial intelligence, some about the Singularity (this in later years), some about nanotech (around the middle period and somewhat overlapping with Singularity discussions).

Just looking at my bookshelf now, I have in the neighborhood of three dozen books of this type on various subjects. The oldest was first published in the early 1960s. I also can recall at least 2-3 that I had when I was younger, but which got misplaced in the course of various moves or other adventures. Add to this probably 2-3 decades worth of Analog magazine, each issue of which includes 1-2 science articles, also often focused on possible future science and tech.

Nearly all of these works that aren't more of a survey of the 'state of the art' (e.g., The Starflight Handbook) or of a more philosophical bent (many of the works discussing the Singularity have a good sized dash of this) speak in terms of what will be done rather than in terms of 'what might be possible in some form, at some undefined point in the future...maybe'. Even when they make it clear they are exploring lots of different possibilities, the narrative style is often/usually of the 'what we will do' variety. Despite that, and while I can't speak for everyone obviously, I always took this to be a literary device or style, designed to make the subject matter more interesting to the reader and catch their imagination rather than a serious prediction of exactly what the future would hold.

Although I haven't really been looking hard, I've noticed that these kinds of books are much less common than they used to be. Which leads me to wonder if changes in culture have led to less of an interest in this type of book possibly combined with (or arising out of) a mindset of 'the younger generation' that expects that statements about what 'will be' are to be either meant literally or they shouldn't be made?

Yes? No? Maybeso? Thoughts?


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RE: article about Nanotechnology on rationalwiki - by Drashner1 - 05-09-2015, 01:16 PM

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