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Folding DNA into Twisted and Curved Nanoscale Shapes

See the press release.

Looking at these reminds me of images my mind created when I first read Robert Bradbury's paper on protein-based assembly of nanoscale parts.

Does this advance mean that MNT is imminent or inevitable? Not in the slightest. Humans were making complex structures out of macroscale metallic objects about 2,000 years ago, but we still haven't created a self-replicating machine. Self-replicating nanoscale manipulators would be necessary to make MNT work, even if those manipulators only self-replicated as a large ensemble (like a blacksmith's tools can self-replicate in aggregate and with human help).

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  1. While self-replication is nature’s model, it’s unnecessarily complex and inefficient to expect that our first practical “nano-factories” will be composed of self-replicating nanobots. Much more likely that such factories will utilize a variety of specialized nanoscale tools.

  2. Yes, but to start from just a few nanoscale tools and make enough manipulators to build macroscale objects, they’d probably need to be self-replicating, even if only a large ensemble could self-replicate, like a “blacksmith’s shop” on the nanoscale.

  3. Please read the 2005 briefing document titled “Nanobots Not Needed” from the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.

    SUMMARY: The popular idea of so-called nanobots, powerful and at risk of running wild, is not part of modern plans for building things “atom-by-atom” by molecular manufacturing. Studies indicate that most people don’t know the difference between molecular manufacturing, nanoscale technology, and nanobots. Confusion about terms, fueled by science fiction, has distorted the truth about advanced nanotechnology. Nanobots are not needed for manufacturing, but continued misunderstanding may hinder research into highly beneficial technologies and discussion of the real dangers.

  4. Yeah, I misspoke. I meant self-replicating nanoscale manipulators. I don’t necessarily think of nanobots as autonomous, just as any nanoscale robot.

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