Tune in to a talk I had this afternoon with the founders of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, Mike Treder and Chris Phoenix, about my recent Star Trek replicator posting on the future of nanomanufacturing systems.
Mike and Chris addressed a variety of questions about how to make nanomanufacturing, from how to deal with dangerous nanotechnology to making sure it does not lead to a wider gap between the haves and have-nots around the world. One of the trends we need to avoid with nanotechnology—which we haven't succeeded at in computing—is a race for broad patent protection on the design of products when every home designer could be developing similar designs concurrently.
Then there's the issue of how to keep nanomanufacturing from turning out new and even more dangerous weapons and chemicals. This raises the question of how to balance nanomanufacturing systems owners' rights without creating another DRM-like nightmare where an expensive tool is crippled by industries that seek protection not only of society (from weapons) but their profits, as well.
Mike and Chris believe the major breakthroughs will come by 2020 and that now is the time to be talking about these issues. They have posted an excellent white paper on the subject, Three Systems of Action: A Proposed Application for Effective Administration of Molecular Nanotechnology, at their site.