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This is an abstract for a talk to be given at the Fifth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.
The development of a viable molecular manufacturing industry will depend on
the strategic selection of R&D targets and the proactive avoidance of
regulatory risks. Achieving precise positional control of molecules via
assemblers would provide one critical component of a complete manufacturing
system. Scaling up the technology and developing the additional components
needed for industrial manufacturing operations is another challenge. These
components must then be integrated into a molecular factory of the future,
a considerable systems engineering project. In the past, large systems
engineering efforts in defense and space applications received major boosts
from large government R&D efforts. These efforts were often justified by
the potential or actual "spin-offs" from the research. An alternative
strategy for funding molecular manufacturing R&D is to identify the
critical components needed for an eventual factory, and focus on specific
target components that provide immediate economic value added. Nanosystems
integration companies will emerge to provide the systems engineering and
integration of "best of breed" molecular manufacturing components. This
approach does not preclude huge government investment in molecular
manufacturing R&D, in fact, it stimulates and leverages it. Further, it
provides an alternate route to development, which may work in the absence
of a critical mass of government R&D funds. Development of a viable
molecular manufacturing industrial base will also require proactive R&D
attention to specific environmental, defense, and intelligence issues that
may drive reflexive controls on the industry, and prevent timely and
responsible deployment of the technology.
Neil Jacobstein, President & Chief Operating Officer, Teknowledge Corporation, 1810 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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