Pathway controversy

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This article is a stub. It needs to be expanded.

(TODO: Add intro.)

Communication

Article on Erik K. Drexlers blog "metamodern"

Title: E.Drexlers Blog: Toward Advanced Nanotechnology: Nanomaterials (1) ... why diamond synthesis is a bad objective (state 2016-03)
Due to "Error establishing a database connection" on target site (state 2016-11) a waybackmachine link is used here. (all archived versions) (old broken link)

In summary what E. Drexler roughly states there is the following:

  • Promotion of the direct pathway to advanced APM systems is falsely attributed to him.
  • Actually he always heavily advocated development starting from bio-molecular nanosystems.
  • There’s a huge difference between a practical, near-term objective and an attractive but distant aim point.
  • Some ideas about diamond synthesis (e.g. that it's a a necessary first step) are impractical research objectives that have received far too much attention and seem absurd to most scientists. At the current stage of research, diamond synthesis is both difficult and unnecessary. It's a particularly difficult test-case for the application of advanced mechanosynthesis to high-performance materials.
  • Those ideas spread unproportionlally. Despite the original meaning of the term "mechanosynthesis" which he says is "molecular synthesis directed by mechanical means" it became very much equated to diamond synthesis.
  • Mis-conceptional ideas like this have and may continue to impede progress. (See: APM R&D History)

Response form "Nanofactory Collaboration"

The response on the Nanofactory Collaboration homepage (state 2016-11)
On the bottom of the Nanofactory Collaboration page they explicitly state that they try to tread the direct pathway.

Citation (block format)

 Toward Advanced Nanosystems, 28 December 2008: There appears to be some confusion as to 
        who is advocating the direct-to-DMS approach to molecular manufacturing. We are.
        Our assessment is that diamondoid mechanosynthesis (DMS), including 
highly-parallelized atomically-precise diamondoid fabrication, is
the quickest currently feasible route to a mature molecular nanotechnology, including nanofactories. We do not think that DMS is a “necessary first step” for molecular manufacturing, and
we wish the best of luck to those pursuing other paths. However, we do think
DMS is a highly desirable first step, since it offers a much faster route to mature nanosystems than competing approaches.
We disagree with the statement that “diamond synthesis seems almost irrelevant to progress toward advanced nanosystems.”
We have a favorable view of the feasibility of the direct-to-DMS approach – a favorable view supported by
hundreds of pages of detailed analysis in recently-published peer-reviewed technical journal papers and by
gradually-evolving mainstream opinion.

Citation (normal fromat + links)

The same in easier to read formatting and with reconstructed links:

Toward Advanced Nanosystems, 28 December 2008: There appears to be some confusion as to who is advocating the direct-to-DMS approach to molecular manufacturing. We are.

Our assessment is that diamondoid mechanosynthesis (DMS), including highly-parallelized atomically-precise diamondoid fabrication, is the quickest currently feasible route to a mature molecular nanotechnology, including nanofactories.

We do not think that DMS is a “necessary first step” for molecular manufacturing, and we wish the best of luck to those pursuing other paths. However, we do think DMS is a highly desirable first step, since it offers a much faster route to mature nanosystems than competing approaches. We disagree with the statement that “diamond synthesis seems almost irrelevant to progress toward advanced nanosystems.” We have a favorable view of the feasibility of the direct-to-DMS approach – a favorable view supported by hundreds of pages of detailed analysis in recently-published peer-reviewed technical journal papers and by gradually-evolving mainstream opinion.

Analysis of this communication and the general situation

(TODO: It seems there was some miscommunication here - more carefully analysis is needed here)

It seems the nanofactory collaboration's response may unintentionally have been more targeted at how people reading E.Drexlers blog entry could interpret it rather than what E.Drexler actually wanted to convey.


 We disagree with the statement that 
 “diamond synthesis seems almost irrelevant to progress toward advanced nanosystems.

What E. Drexler actually wrote with context was:
(Important part highlightet afterwards)

 Contrary to popular opinion, diamond synthesis seems almost irrelevant 
 to progress toward advanced nanosystems. At the current stage of research, 
 it is both difficult and unnecessary.

Also with "diamond synthesis" here he may have, being it consciously or not, referred to to aiming directly at doing it at a scale sufficient for full on bootstrapping towards diamondoid nanofactories - without taking any advantage from bottom up incremental path technology. That is: Maybe he was not referring to the mere core process here, where greater speed and parallelism are not really necessary for a good proof of principle.

The nanofactory collaboration seems pretty heavily focused on the direct path.
So when replying to E. Drexlers blogpost the aforementioned subtle differences where not recognized and reproduced.

The direct path nanofactory paradox

Note that a strong focus (like in the nanofactory collaboration) on the direct path naturally leads to systems that have more of the character of molecular assemblers than nanofactories**.

By now the core experts in atomically precise manufacturing have all switched to the nanofactory concept (TODO: add links) but there's also strong attachment to the direct path.

Especially in Chris Phoenix's direct path diamondoid nanofactory outline (2003)** (See: Discussion of proposed nanofactory designs) one may start to wonder in how far the core units that do the mechanosynthesis in this nanofactory differ from molecular assemblers (beside being locked in place).

Notes

This communication seems to be the only instance were the situation was put to "paper".

Related

External links