Previous: U.S. programs in nanotechnology

III. The Present State of Nanotechnology

e. The U.S. National Programs


Atomic tips

2. DARPA. 

DARPA stands for "Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency". This is a department of the U.S. Department of Defense, known for invention of Internet in 1960's. On July 24, 2007, DARPA posted a

A nanofactory

solicitation for a "tip-based nanofabrication". Various kinds of tips
 are used for capturing and moving individual atoms. Using this tips, it would be possible to build atomic mechanisms, one atom at a time.

3. MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. The leading technology school in the U.S. is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the school, there is an Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, funded by the U.S. Army. For example, one of the projects now in the works is transferring electricity over distances without wires. 

4. Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. 

This appears to be a Center for "containing" nanotechnology, just like the U.S. would like to limit the spread of nuclear weapons.

Mike treder

Mike Treder, Executive Director of Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Most interesting is the article by Mike Treder titled "Who will win the nano
race?", from February 21st, 2008. The article is notable for statistics on international efforts in nanotechnology. The graph (on the right) shows the number of scientific publications in the field.

The first three leaders appear to be the U.S., Japan and China. Russia occupies 11th place. Let's note that this graph is for period up to 2004, before Russia launched its nanotech program (2007).

There is another table showing government spending on nanotech in 2004, from which Mike Treder makes the following conclusion: "At the present time, it appears that the United States still has the lead in developing nanotechnology. Japan seems to be a close second, with the European countries in third position. Quickly up and coming could be China, and other potentially significant players include South Korea, Russia, India, Australia, Brazil, Taiwan, and Singapore."

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology has developed key questions on the problems of politics of nanotechnology.

First question: when will the MM (molecular manufacturing) be developed?

"Several technology trends point to molecular manufacturing, or equivalent capability, being developed around the 2020-2030 time frame".

Second question: is it possible to delay the development of MM?


George Whitesides, a professor of chemistry at Harvard

"Scientists such as Smalley, Whitesides, and Ratner have done a very effective job of delaying investigation and development in the U.S., but this may be about to change... it would probably be possible to postpone U.S. attention for another few years if key pro-MM spokespeople could be convinced to announce that they had shifted position and now believed it was impossible to achieve."

Third question: the effect of nanotechnology on economy.

"It will eliminate the supply chain for superseded products and their components".

In other words, products that can be manufactured via nanotechnology will not be manufactured in a regular way.

Moreover: "we can expect a large fraction of jobs in a wide range of areas related to manufacturing, extraction, and supply to disappear. This problem is already appearing with increased automation and efficiency, but could rapidly get worse". 

We can expect the same thing happen to modern industry as what happened to agriculture in early 1900's: 37% of population worked on the farms in 1900 and 0.5% today.

Most important, nanotechnology poses a threat to surplus-value, profit on capital, vulgarly called "a spinoff value":

"When the cost of production becomes a miniscule fraction of the value to the user, and when manufacturing capital and labor alike lose their value, capitalistic wealth accumulation may cease to provide its customary spinoff of value to the economy and to society".

Altogether, this means that in 10-15 more years capitalism will be in its most serious crisis ever.

Next: nanotechnology in the former USSR

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.