could function faster than electronic computers since the components could be placed muchcloser together.Disassemblers could take apart objects, atom by atom, and record their structure for replication.Genetic technology is the first step towards synthetic nanotechnology.Each advance shall enable the next.The advancement of technology is inevitable and can be barred only by worldwide destruction or worldwide regulation.Molecular machines will represent a technological revolution on par with the advent of nuclear weapons or the discovery of antibiotics. Life will be profoundly affected.Chapter 2: The Principles of ChangeUnderstanding the principles of change will help us to understand the potential for good and evil presented by nanotechnology.Evolution is fueled by selection and random variation (mutation). Evolution occurs in livingorganisms and in molecules (proteins and RNA).
Geologists and archaeologists the world over have clearly observed that species of specific typesare found in specific layers of Earth, and that each layer’s age can be ascertained. Furthermore,the layers always occur in the same order, indisputably indicating that different types of life predominated on Earth during different stages of our planet’s history.
Drexler agrees with Kurzweil that technology and intelligence have effectively enhanced the rateof evolution by thousands fold.Technology also evolves incrementally. Most advancement results from evolution rather thanrevolution. In rare instances, innovation occurs entirely by accident.Selection also occurs in the workplace, factory and free market. Evolution is everywhere.Technology gives humans the edge over the natural world because our intelligence allows us toenhance our abilities far faster than nature can evolve (in most circumstances).Progress cannot be stopped.The human mind is the information repository for technological innovation just as the cellnucleus is the information repository for biological evolution.Memes are attitudes and beliefs held by people. Most are selfish, but protective. A commonmeme is the tendency to reject risky new ideas in favor of older, tested ideas. This has bothadvantages and disadvantages.The principles of change will shape the development of nanotechnology.Chapter 3: Predicting and ProjectingThe development of technology needs to be controlled to ensure public safety.On December 30
, 1959, Dr. Richard Feynman gave his speech “There’s plenty of room at the bottom” to the American Physical Society. His speech was based around three major ideas: first,manipulating atoms individually to build molecules did not violate the laws of physics, second,the technology to do so would eventually arrive as our ability to make smaller and smaller generations of robots improved, and third, the arrival of such technology is inevitable.While Feynman and others correctly predict that nanomachines will emerge, Drexler resists theidea of setting a timetable for the development of the technology. As has been seen with pasttechnologies, “The nuances of detail and competitive advantage that select winning technologiesmake the technology race complex and its path unpredictable.”2