Ray Kurzweil, renowned inventor, entrepreneur, and best-selling author, explained, "As the pace of technological advancement rapidly accelerates, it becomes increasingly important to promote knowledgeable and insightful discussion of both promise and peril. I'm very pleased to take part in this effort by including my own essay, and by hosting discussion of these essays on the 'MindX' discussion board at KurzweilAI.net."
Nanotechnology Perceptions is a peer-reviewed academic journal of the Collegium Basilea in Basel, Switzerland. "We jumped at the chance to publish the CRN Task Force essays," said Jeremy Ramsden, editor-in-chief of the journal. "To us, these articles represent world-class thinking about some of the most important challenges that human society will ever face."
In August 2005, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, a non-profit research and advocacy organization, formed its Global Task Force to study the societal implications of molecular manufacturing, an advanced form of nanotechnology. Bringing together a diverse group of world-class experts from multiple disciplines, CRN is spearheading an historic, collaborative effort to develop comprehensive recommendations for the safe and responsible use of this rapidly emerging technology.
"This outstanding compilation of 22 essays describes some of the major challenges posed by nanotechnology," said Mike Treder, executive director of CRN. "However, the collection also makes it clear that we have only scratched the surface of the risks, challenges, and opportunities associated with molecular manufacturing." Like electricity or computers before it, nanotechnology will bring greatly improved efficiency and productivity in many areas of human endeavor. In its mature form, known as molecular manufacturing, it will have significant impact on almost all industries and all parts of society. Personal nanofactories may offer better built, longer lasting, cleaner, safer, and smarter products for the home, for communications, for medicine, for transportation, for agriculture, and for industry in general.
However, as a general-purpose technology, molecular manufacturing will be dual-use, meaning that in addition to its civilian applications, it will have military uses as well--making far more powerful weapons and tools of surveillance. Thus, it represents not only wonderful benefits for humanity, but also grave risks.
"Ongoing work toward molecular manufacturing is advancing rapidly in several fields," said Chris Phoenix, CRN's director of research. "These 22 essays examine many of the radical changes that molecular manufacturing will bring to society. We hope this collection challenges our readers as much as it informs them. Not much time is left to find wise solutions."
The CRN Task Force essays have been posted online at KurzweilAI.net and Wise-Nano.org. Most essays are available for publishing or reprint under Gnu Free Documentation License (GFDL). The second group of essays are:
1. "Nanoethics and Technological Revolutions: A Précis" - Nick Bostrom
2. "From The Enlightenment to N-Lightenment" - Michael Buerger
3. "What Price Freedom?" - Robert A. Freitas Jr.*
4. "The (Needed) New Economics of Abundance" - Steve Burgess
5. "Economic Impact of the Personal Nanofactory" - Robert A. Freitas Jr.*
6. "Corporate Cornucopia: Examining the Special Implications of Commercial MNT Development" - Michael Vassar
7. "Molecular Manufacturing and the Developing World: Looking to Nanotechnology for Answers." - Don Maclurcan
8. "Considering Military and Ethical Implications of Nanofactory-level Nanotechnology" - Brian Wang
9. "Molecular Manufacturing and the Need for Crime Science" - Deborah Osborne
10. "Safer Molecular Manufacturing Through Nanoblocks" - Tom Craver
11. "Are We Guardians, Or Are We Apes Designing Humans?" - Douglas Mulhall
1. "Nanotechnology Dangers and Defenses" - Ray Kurzweil
2. "Molecular Manufacturing: Too Dangerous to Allow?" - Robert A. Freitas Jr.*
3. "Nano-Guns, Nano-Germs, and Nano-Steel" - Mike Treder
4. "Molecular Manufacturing and 21st Century Policing" - Tom Cowper
5. "The Need For Limits" - Chris Phoenix
6. "Globalization and Open Source Nano Economy" - Giulio Prisco
7. "Cultural Dominants and Differential MNT Uptake" - Damien Broderick
8. "Nanoethics and Human Enhancement" - Patrick Lin & Fritz Allhoff
9. "Strategic Sustainable Brain" - Natasha Vita-More
10. "Is AI Near a Takeoff Point?" - J. Storrs Hall
11. "Singularities and Nightmares: The Range of Our Futures" - David Brin
* These essays are © Robert A. Freitas Jr., and are not released under GFDL.