Speech Upward Slope

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  • The Flat Horizon Problem Mike Treder, Executive DirectorCenter for Responsible Nanotechnologynanotechnology on an upward slope

  • Stand by the ocean, looking out. It is rare in nature to find a truly flat line, but thats what the horizon appears to be.

  • Of course, the horizon is not a flat line. It curves, but gradually, and itisnt easy for usto detectthe curve.

    In truth, its not a line at all, because the earth has no edge.

  • We can understand, though, why many premodern societies believed the earth to be flat, with an edge somewhere. After all, thats how it looks.

  • Now, stand in the present, looking toward the future. Does it look pretty much like today, except more modern? In reality, the future holds many changes: some transformative, some beneficial, and some dangerous.

  • The most disruptive future changes may occur as a result of molecular manufacturing, an advanced form of nanotechnology.

  • But if the future really will be so different from today, why doesnt it look that way from here?

  • The Intuitive Linear View TimeChangeThe problem is human perspective, what Ray Kurzweil calls the Intuitive Linear View. When we see something that looks like a straight line, we naturally assume that it is. Although change occurs around us every day, unless we look closely we may not notice it. So, we logically think that last week, last month, and last year were like today, and that next year and a few years after that wont be much different either.

  • Now, stand on the rails of a roller coaster, just before the climb up the highest hill (in your imagination only!).

  • AntCrouch down low, until your eye is even with the track. Get an ants eye view

  • To an ant, the track looks totally flat, like it goes on flat forever. The ant cant see far enough. In reality, the track gradually curves upwards.

  • Standing up, you, the human, can see the slope ahead and the smooth incline of the track.

  • Walk up the track toward the big hill. The further you go, the steeper the curve becomes. If you look back, its clear how high you have ascended. But crouch down for the ants eye view again, and what do you see?

  • The ant sees more flat track, whether looking forward or back.

  • Leave the roller coaster now and come back to reality. Stand up really tall, peer back into history, and imagine how things seemed from the Intuitive Linear View

  • 1885:No such thing as automobiles or airplanes.

  • 1885:The British Empire will last forever.

  • 19261926:No such thing as television or cable.

  • 1926:The stock market will rise forever.

  • 1957:No such thing as communications satellites or the Berlin Wall.

  • Cuba1957:The sunny business partnership between Cuba and the USA will prosper forever.

  • 1967:No such thing as desktop computers or cell phones.

  • Kennedy & King1967:Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy will be leaders for decades to come.

  • 1974"It will be years, not in my time, before a woman will become Prime Minister.1974: Margaret Thatcher

  • 1986:No such thing as the World Wide Web.

  • 1986:The Soviet Union and the Cold War will last forever.

  • 19951995:Spam is a luncheon meat.

  • 19951995:Terrorism is something bad that happens to someone else .

  • 2005

  • Graphic Rendition of a Desktop Nanofactory Courtesy of John Burch, Lizard Fire Studios2005:No such thing as molecular manufacturing.

  • Current socio-political conditions and structures will last forever. 2005:

  • The idea that nothing really changes Its simple to see how wrong this is, but its easy to slip into.

  • As for nanotechnologys transformative and disruptive impacts, were on the roller coaster heading toward the big climb. Progress is occurring every day, taking us closer, even if we dont notice the gradual incline. Soon, however, the curve will sharpen and take us rapidly into a future for which we may not be prepared.

  • The Coming Nanotechnology RevolutionNot just new products a new means of productionManufacturing systems that make more manufacturing systems exponential proliferation Accelerated product improvement cheap rapid prototyping Affects all industries general-purpose technologyInexpensive raw materials, potentially negligible capital cost economic discontinuityPortable, desktop-size factories social disruptionImpacts will cross borders global transformation

  • BIG STEPS in Economic, Social, and Political HistoryComputersTimeChangeAutomobiles

    RailwaysSteam Engines

  • BIG STEPS in Economic, Social, and Political HistoryTimeChange

  • Not Steps, but S-Shaped CurvesTimeChange

  • Not Steps, but S-Shaped CurvesTimeChange

  • Not Steps, but S-Shaped CurvesTimeChange

  • Societal ImpactsTimeIndustrial Revolutions

  • Societal ImpactsTime(Measured in decades)Industrial Revolutions

  • Societal ImpactsTime(Measured in YEARS)Nanotechnology Revolution

  • Societal ImpactsTimeAccelerated ImpactsIndustrial RevolutionsMolecular Manufacturing Revolution

  • Societal ImpactsTimeThe Next Big StepSteam EnginesComputersRailwaysAutomobiles(Middle Ages)

  • Societal ImpactsTimeSteam EnginesComputersRailwaysAutomobiles(Middle Ages) NanotechnologyThe Next Big Step

  • NanotechnologySocietal ImpactsTimeThe Next Big StepSteam EnginesComputersRailwaysAutomobiles(Middle Ages)

  • Now is the time to stand up, get out of the Intuitive Linear View, avoid the Myth of Perpetuation, and observe the upward curve

  • Once we have gained perspective, we can begin to make wise decisions for a better and safer nano future!

  • Nanotechnology on an Upward Slope Mike TrederCenter for Responsible Nanotechnologywww.crnano.orgmtreder@crnano.org

    1885: No such thing as automobiles or airplanes. The British Empire will last forever.1885: No such thing as automobiles or airplanes. The British Empire will last forever.1926: No such thing as television or cable. The stock market will rise forever.1957: No such thing as communications satellites or the Berlin Wall. The business partnership between Cuba and the USA will prosper forever.1967: No such thing as desktop computers or cell phones. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King will be leaders for decades to come.No such thing as the World Wide Web. The Soviet Union and the Cold War will last forever.

    Spam is a luncheon meat. Terrorism is something that happens somewhere else.

    Spam is a luncheon meat. Terrorism is something that happens somewhere else.

    2005: No such thing as molecular manufacturing. Current socio-political conditions and structures will last forever.2005: No such thing as molecular manufacturing. Current socio-political conditions and structures will last forever.2005: No such thing as molecular manufacturing. Current socio-political conditions and structures will last forever.