Eric Drexler was strongly influenced by ideas on Limits to Growth in the early s. During his first year at Massachusetts Institute of Technology , he sought out someone who was working on extraterrestrial resources. He found Gerard K. Drexler participated in NASA summer studies on space colonies in and He fabricated metal films a few tens of nanometers thick on a wax support to demonstrate the potentials of high performance solar sails. He was active in space politics, helping the L5 Society defeat the Moon Treaty in
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Eric Drexler was strongly influenced by ideas on Limits to Growth in the early s. During his first year at Massachusetts Institute of Technology , he sought out someone who was working on extraterrestrial resources.
He found Gerard K. Drexler participated in NASA summer studies on space colonies in and He fabricated metal films a few tens of nanometers thick on a wax support to demonstrate the potentials of high performance solar sails. He was active in space politics, helping the L5 Society defeat the Moon Treaty in The and papers were co-authored with Keith Henson , and patents were issued on both subjects, vapor phase fabrication and space radiators.
During the late s, Drexler began to develop ideas about molecular nanotechnology MNT. In , Drexler wrote a seminal research article, published by PNAS , "Molecular engineering: An approach to the development of general capabilities for molecular manipulation".
In that book, he proposed the idea of a nanoscale "assembler" which would be able to build a copy of itself and of other items of arbitrary complexity. He also first published the term " grey goo " to describe what might happen if a hypothetical self-replicating molecular nanotechnology went out of control.
He has subsequently tried to clarify his concerns about out-of-control self-replicators, and make the case that molecular manufacturing does not require such devices.
He received his B. Personal life[ edit ] Drexler was married to Christine Peterson for 21 years. The marriage ended in In , Drexler married Rosa Wang, a former investment banker who works with Ashoka: Innovators for the Public on improving the social capital markets.
Smalley first argued that "fat fingers" made MNT impossible. Drexler maintained that both were straw man arguments, and in the case of enzymes, wrote that "Prof. Thus, the eventually attainable perfection and complexity of manufactured products, while they can be calculated in theory, cannot be predicted with confidence.
Finally, the optimum research paths that might lead to systems which greatly exceed the thermodynamic efficiencies and other capabilities of biological systems cannot be reliably predicted at this time. Research funding that is based on the ability of investigators to produce experimental demonstrations that link to abstract models and guide long-term vision is most appropriate to achieve this goal.
Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology
Drexler imagines a world where the entire Library of Congress can fit on a chip the size of a sugar cube and where universal assemblers, tiny machines that can build objects atom by atom, will be used for everything from medicinal robots that help clear capillaries to environmental scrubbers that clear pollutants from the air. In the book, Drexler proposes the gray goo scenario—one prediction of what might happen if molecular nanotechnology were used to build uncontrollable self-replicating machines. Topics also include hypertext as developed by Project Xanadu and life extension. Drexler takes a Malthusian view of exponential growth within limits to growth. He also promotes space advocacy arguing that, because the universe is essentially infinite, life can escape the limits to growth defined by Earth.
K. Eric Drexler
Engines of Creation by K. Eric Drexler, Fourth Estate, pp , Pounds sterling He had just made chromatography practicable and through his innovations had begun a worldwide industry. He was keen to move on to a larger challenge, and proposed to use his talents to develop tiny machine tools that would then make smaller ones and so on until mechanical devices were reduced to their lowest limit of size. I recall his comment that the speed of a mechanical computer made in this nanotechnological way would be faster than that of the electronic computers then available.