Richard has asked for ideas about what we could do if we had a matter compiler. There has been a range of suggestions but, to my industrial eyes, too high a fraction of “you could do this piece of science”. Jack points out the confusion between science and technology. To paraphrase a wittier quote “research is turning money into ideas and technology is turning ideas into money”.
Although there is a fair amount of activity that parades under the nomenclature of nanotechnology, I suspect much is driven by the availability of funding or the desire not to be left out! Industry does what it can identify the output of – and output that has value to society or individuals. We are surely aiming at having the output of the ideas factory accessible to society? Is there another route?
There are also a lot of questions about whether we want short or long term goals. If we are to realise the full potential of the goal we are setting ourselves this week, we need to identify both short and long term goals but – and to my mind this is the crux of the question – we need to start with is the final paragraph of Jack’s last post “What things – methods, products, outcomes, social needs – should we be imagining? And what questions should we have in our minds as we do so?” We can then prioritise them in terms of effort required and resultant benefit and decide where best to focus our efforts – over time. In other words we first need to ask what CAN we do and then what WILL we do?