I Do Not Consider MNT Imminent

To clarify my position on molecular nanotechnology (MNT) for Richard Jones and others, let me state emphatically that I do not consider the arrival of MNT to be imminent, only plausible. I see MNT as one possibility in a space of increasingly precise manufacturing systems that can build their own components, moving towards 100% self-replication closure. As Richard points out in his “six challenges for MNT”, there are plenty of hurdles to cross before MNT is developed, if at all.

What is interesting to me is the constantly increasing precision and power of our manufacturing systems. MNT is one possibility, and its familiarity with a wide audience makes it a good reference point for advanced manufacturing technologies even if it does not come to pass as we envision. There are many non-MNT powerful manufacturing technologies in the pipeline, like synthetic biology, which will eventually be used to create atomically precise structures using ribosomes as “assemblers”.

There is no transhumanist “belief package” except for realizing that modifying the human body and brain with technology could be a beneficial thing with proper oversight. Everything else is up for continuous reevaluation. A dogmatic transhumanist belief package is a strawman. Nowadays, thanks to the growth of the movement and declining intellectual standards, many transhumanists know close to nothing about MNT, and probably would be hard-pressed to even say what the acronym stands for.

Comments

  1. kurt9

    I agree with Richard Jones on the feasibility of MNT. I also agree with your definition of transhumanism. The mainstream media always describes transhumanism as being about AI’s and uploading, while forgetting or ignoring the fact that there are many of us who either do not believe this is possible or would not do it if it were possible, but clearly want to get free of current biological limits such as aging and a pre-set finite lifespan. There are a far greater number of life-extensionists than there are self-described transhumanists.

    I would define transhumanism in a more general sense in that it is about using technology to improve the human condition and to create more opportunities for the people who want them.

  2. Transeverything

    To me transhumanism, in these still early days, is about transcending human psychology more than biology – overcoming biases, being less wrong – simply because it’s something that needs to be done sooner or later on our path to posthumanity, and it can be done, to an extent, now. Not being bound by the legacy software provided by our legacy hardware is my main interest now. Until technology allows doing something about the hardware, the focus is on upgrading the software.

    I’d like to see more written on this aspect of being a transhumanist on this blog.

  3. jerry

    “A dogmatic transhumanist belief package is a strawman. Nowadays, thanks to the growth of the movement and declining intellectual standards, many transhumanists know close to nothing about MNT, and probably would be hard-pressed to even say what the acronym stands for.”

    was that really necessary…

  4. My New Toy?

    Absolutely. The mild to sometimes severe crankiness is why I’m here.

  5. Most Novel Tool

    I always visit this blog when I forget what it means, and as a bonus, reading this blog keeps my intellectual standard from declining. Nowadays, like the movement, my waistline also seems to grow. Probably thanks to lack of movement.

    And since I know nothing about MNT I’d like to read a definitive, authoritative (if possible) book on it. Know any good?

  6. was that really necessary…

    Yes, I think universal dull-minded positiveness is for people constantly afraid of offending their audience. I prefer realism. I am also amused by how easily offended people in the audience can be. They are too used to blogs that act as impersonal information conduits, giving the readers info like a dedicated servant. This is more like a personal journal that happens to be public.

    Know any good?

    A good recent book on MNT is NanoFuture by J. Storrs Hall, but if you’ve been following our recent debates, you’ll know that there is substantial disagreement on many issues.

    The “definitive” work is Engines of Creation, which is available online, but it’s quite old and out-of-date, pushing 25 years.

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