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Jolt to the System:

The Transformative Impact of Nanotechnology

Mike Treder
Executive Director
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

Troy, New York

November 16, 2004


Industrial Revolutions
First Revolution
Based in United Kingdom Steam Engine Textile Industry Mechanical Engineering


Industrial Revolutions
Second Revolution
Based in Europe England, France, Germany Railways Steel Industry


Industrial Revolutions
Third Revolution
Based in United States Electric Engine Heavy Chemicals Automobiles Consumer Durables


Industrial Revolutions
Fourth Revolution
Based in Pacific Basin California, Japan Synthetics Organic Chemicals (Oil) Computers


The Next Industrial Revolution

Fifth Revolution
(2010? ??)
Based in Developing World? China? India? Brazil? Nanotechnology Molecular Manufacturing


Accelerated Impacts
Molecular Manufacturing Revolution

Im So pa cie ct ta s l

Industrial Revolutions


Jolt to the System

The ability to build anything we can design, by manipulating molecules under direct computer control, will be a jolt to the system.
Molecular Mill image courtesy of Eric Drexler


Jolt to the System

The ability to build anything we can design, by manipulating molecules under direct computer control, will be a jolt to the system.
Image by John Burch, Lizard Fire Studios

A transformative, disruptive, discontinuous jolt to ecological, economic, political, and social systems on a local, national, and global scale.

Transformative Impact

The combined impacts of nanotechnology will equal the Industrial Revolutions of the last two centuries but with all that change compressed into just a few years.

The Next Revolution

Not just new products a new means of production Manufacturing systems that make more manufacturing
systems exponential proliferation

Vastly accelerated product improvement cheap

rapid prototyping

Affects all industries and economic sectors

general-purpose technology

Inexpensive raw materials, potentially negligible capital

cost economic discontinuity

Portable, desktop-size factories social disruption Impacts will cross borders global transformation

Inside a Nanofactory


Benefits + Risks
An automated, self-contained factory could provide...
Lifesaving medical robots Networked computers for everyone in the world Trillions of dollars of abundance Rapid invention of wondrous products

or or or or

Untraceable weapons of destruction


Networked cameras so governments can watch our every move A vicious scramble to own everything Weapons development fast enough to destabilize any arms race


Economic disruption from an abundance of cheap products Economic oppression from artificially inflated prices Personal risk from criminal or terrorist use Constant intrusive surveillance Oppression from abusive restrictions Social disruption from new products/lifestyles Unstable arms race leading to war Collective environmental damage from unregulated products Black market in molecular manufacturing (increases other risks) Competing nanotechnology programs (increases other risks) . . . and many more


What is Needed Now

Awareness of the issues Technical research Policy research


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A collaborative project to study the facts and implications of advanced nanotechnology a website for researchers worldwide to work together, helping to build an understanding of the technologies, their effects, and what to do about them.