But if you examine the progress of our various technologies in detail, you would realise that they have been steadily increasing in complexity. What used to be lumps of metal are now intricate shapes, designed with a sub-millimetre precision using CAD-tools, filled with microprocessors, a variety of sensors and what not.
We are gradually moving from making products out of dumb matter to making them from “smart matter”, but if you do not pay attention, you are probably not aware of it, because on the outside they look similar. A Model T is quite similar to the latest Ford Fusion 2006 in shape and function, but the new model is already a few orders of magnitude more complex.
It won’t happen overnight, but we will continue designing and producing more and more complex systems. Talking specifically about nanotechnology, Millipede is an example of where this increase in complexity on the structural level is taking us. Step by step, year by year, technology will become more complex and eventually it will become possible to design and produce such nanofactories.
And of course, these would be built using slightly less advanced technologies, those developed a few years before. But the beauty of it is that once you have some molecular manufacturing capability, you can build zillions of small parts that can be later assembled in larger nanofactories. And when you have one nanofactory (or a nanoassembler), you can build an unlimited number of them at essentially zero cost.
This animation doesn’t show all complexity of the real nanofactory, because, frankly, they are at least 15-20 years ahead of us. If we could design one for a 3D movie, we would be able to design one for real. The video doesn’t show error correction, programmatic control, material transport and many other things. But beleive me, people who work on this kind of stuff actually do know that those are important and they do design possible ways of implementing them. But for the purposes of making an educational video these details can be easily omitted.]]>