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III. The Present State of Nanotechnology

d. Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil,,

Raymond Kurzweil
 is a noted inventor, writer and businessman, among other things interested in nanotechnology.

First, some information from his biography:

"His father was a musician and composer and his mother was a visual artist. His uncle, an engineer at Bell Labs, taught young Ray the basics about computers.[1] In his youth, he was an avid consumer of science fiction literature. In 1963, at the age of fifteen, he wrote his first computer program to process statistical data at a summer job. The program was so useful that IBM distributed it to researchers.[2]Later in high school he created a sophisticated pattern-recognition software program that analyzed musical pieces of great classical music composers and then synthesized its own songs in similar styles". Let's note that social background is similar to people like Steve Wozniack, Eric Drexler and other modern inventors. Their parents are artists, engineers, scientists; they are interested in science fiction and the future. They are "classical nerds".

On the site of Ray Kurzweil,, you can find some good articles, such as Robert Freitas' "The Economic Impact of a Personal Nanofactory". Another article is "Corporate Cornucopia", 2006, by Michael Vassar. We read about effects of nanotechnology on employment:

"early MNT (molecular nanotechnology) products will almost eliminate certain sectors, such as manufacturing; will greatly reduce the need for workers in some others, such as mining, utilities, construction, and transportation/warehousing of goods; will have little direct impact on the demand for work in some fields, such as educational services, management, and food services; and will greatly increase the demand for a few professions, especially information technology and possibly scientific and technical services".

M. Vassar continues:

"I estimate that MNT will make 10% - 20% of all current US jobs obsolete within a year of development, 20% - 40% within two years, and in the absence of strong AI will make 60% - 80% of current work unnecessary within a decade of development".

Above we've noticed some of the professions necessary for development of nanotechnology. In a testimony presented to the U.S. Congress, April 9, 2003, Ray Kaurzweil says:

"Over the past 120 years, we have increased our investment in K-12 education (per student and in constant dollars) by a factor of ten.  We have a one hundred fold increase in the number of college students.  Automation started by amplifying the power of our muscles, and in recent times has been amplifying the power of our minds.  Thus, for the past two centuries, automation has been eliminating jobs at the bottom of the skill ladder while creating new (and better paying) jobs at the top of the skill ladder.  So the ladder has been moving up, and thus we have been exponentially increasing investments in education at all levels"

Some conclusions for theory of revolution:

1) a decline in the role of workers at the bottom of the skills ladder, "the proletariat";

2) an increase in the role of highly qualified workers;

3) an increase in importance of education and knowledge in production;

4) focus on the process of education.

Next: U.S. programs in nanotechnology

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