30.10.03

Eric Drexler's submission to the Royal Society's Working Group on Nanotechnology

The author of the seminal Engines of Creation attempts to clarify the confusion surrounding what exactly is meant by "nanotechnology"

From Drexler's submission: "Confusion around divergent uses of this term have spawned much of the confusion around the subject. [...] it has increasingly been used to re-label a diverse and often little-related collection of research efforts [...] It was the Feynman vision and its consequences that gave "nanotechnology" its reputation as a revolutionary technology with enormous promise and dangers, but it is current research that gives a different sort of "nanotechnology" a reputation as something happening right now. Confusion between these meanings -- and the natural urge of numerous researchers to dissociate their current work from promises and dangers that they neither understand nor plan to deliver -- has generated much heat."

In order to avoid confusion, Drexler suggests we look at the number of distinct parts in a molecularly manufactured product, typically on the rough order of a sextillion (10^21). Since the prefix "zetta-" denotes this number, the term "zettatechnology" naturally describes molecular manufacturing and its products.

Some extracts from the submission on Nanodot:

From Nanotech to Zettatech, by K. Eric Drexler

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