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Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology

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This brilliant work heralds the new age of nanotechnology, which will give us thorough and inexpensive control of the structure of matter.  Drexler examines the enormous implications of these developments for medicine, the economy, and the environment, and makes astounding yet well-founded projections for the future.


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This brilliant work heralds the new age of nanotechnology, which will give us thorough and inexpensive control of the structure of matter.  Drexler examines the enormous implications of these developments for medicine, the economy, and the environment, and makes astounding yet well-founded projections for the future.

30 review for Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    Be it space lift, nanobots or quantum computers. Nanotechnology makes it all possible. Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested. Imagine, billions of small machines are floating in your blood. Once an organ has a minor malfunction, they are on hand to fix the problem. If an aging process starts, it is reversed by the diligent helpers. If you accidentally cut your finger, the wound closes after seconds and heals in hours. To accelera Be it space lift, nanobots or quantum computers. Nanotechnology makes it all possible. Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested. Imagine, billions of small machines are floating in your blood. Once an organ has a minor malfunction, they are on hand to fix the problem. If an aging process starts, it is reversed by the diligent helpers. If you accidentally cut your finger, the wound closes after seconds and heals in hours. To accelerate the healing process, another model of robots transports pharmaceutical agents directly to the injury. Science fiction? Yes. Still. But for how long? The visionary power of the work has undoubtedly spurred more than a handful of scientists' careers. Drexler is one of the greatest and most influential prophets of all time. The visionary power to predict the development so accurately is almost unique. Where you have to differentiate. Perhaps some research approaches would not have been pursued without his impulses. Or much later. In addition to biotechnology, nanotechnology is the key technology to finally get all the eggs out of one basket. Without this brilliant duo, the colonization of space will not be possible. And before that, together they will tackle the more profane endeavor of solving all human problems and succeed. Of course, there are also risks such as a grey goo scenario or, in the case of biotechnology, the super-epidemic created by humans themselves. Whether it's worth, the risk is out of the question. Because it will be made out of business interests anyway. Thus, it is a waste of time to deal with it and to be afraid. Either the jump to other worlds succeeds, or we eradicate ourselves trying to do so. Or a dictatorship in the distant future uses the even smaller successors of nanorobots to directly control the mind, emotions, and opinions of people in the brain. Without them even noticing. Which raises the question of how to exclude today, that this is not precisely what is happening to us since a very long time without even noticing it. That intelligence and consciousness could not have developed without receiving midwifery this way. The striking similarity of the real functioning of the DNA and RNA and potential design and function plans of nanorobots opens up space for hypotheses. If the basic building blocks of life have similar underlying principles of functioning as synthetic organisms, there must be a connection. A still to be found context between artificially produced intelligence and biological intelligence in the form of molecular machines. Both seem to be based on entirely simple basic instructions and rules. In their elaborate interplay, they mutate, evolving by themselves, and bring forth immense biodiversity. There are no limits to nanotechnology. A comparison with the fire illustrates the potentials. Man learned from many generations to use it for himself. The power of energy in the form of weapons, engines, machines, power plants, etc. are continuations of the use of relatively trivial energy. With nanotechnology, we are at this beginning. We are running around hooting with torches, wallowing in our genius and maybe triggering one or the other, hopefully, non-devastating wildfire (gray goo). If you add 100, 1000 or even 10000 years and you include cooperation with AI and genetic engineering, nothing is impossible. For example, a spacelift that is first used to build orbital stations. The more lifts and stations are created, the more material can be sent directly into space. All this without the current restriction to primitive, chemically powered rockets. Colonization can progress exponentially faster and faster. Space travel is only realistic thanks to the new materials. An effective cure and therapy of several diseases and the solution of problems of the environment, scarcity, production bottlenecks, food production, etc. are possible. If primitive, visible robots already do so much work, invisible helpers can do much more. Not only can they maintain and repair their vast archaic predecessors, but they can also modify themselves. One will no longer need a production line with fully automated robots, where everything from delivery to shipping is done without people. This will be like the stone age for our heirs in the Nano Age. They will not understand the meaning or even sense of such ineffective mass production. Because by self-assembly and initial support by 3D printers and other machines, the robots will be able to produce everything from the primary materials provided. No extra waste of energy or long transport paths will be necessary if everything can be built on demand within a short time. The most significant potential unfolds when nanotechnology and biotechnology are coordinated. For example, when gene therapy, a newly developed vaccine, etc. benefits from the physical support of nanorobots. When new genetic engineered forms of life restore nature while nanobots assist them. The fusion of the benefits of both natural and human technologies will make cyborgs and transhumanist ideas a reality. In combination with an interconnecting future Internet, one can speak of the emergence of a Gaia organism. The effects on quantum computers and computing power will make us look like antique bean counters with abacuses. Like the miniaturization and Moore's Law in the previous development, the steady improvement in the smaller and smaller machines will scratch on the building blocks and layers of reality. There are no limits to successive reduction. We know too little that we could rule that out. For example, that the robots are built up to the size of the quantum plane or what lies underneath. This could open the door to a scenario in which the robots can fumble around on the foundations of reality. That one can manipulate the laws of space and time with their programming. That would put software engineers in the status of gods. As postulated by the incredibly awesome simulation hypothesis, the robots could then be the executing programming instances. And the smallest components of reality the source code of life. And we computer programs in an existence operated by some higher entity. Maybe in this way, universes begin to emerge. When nanorobots become quantum robots and eventually transform into something beyond the still impossible to enter and therefore forbidden zones. And then it comes to a data explosion as with software or the Internet. Except that out of the source code, programs and algorithms instead of images, videos, and words universes, dimensions, multiverses, and parallel universes are formed. Ab Weltraumlift, Nanobots oder Quantencomputer. Die Nanotechnologie macht es möglich Stellen sie sich vor, in ihrem Blut schwimmen Milliarden kleine Maschinen umher. Sobald ein Organ eine kleine Funktionsstörung hat, sind sie flugs zur Stelle, um den Fehler zu reparieren. Setzt ein Alterungsprozess ein, wird er von den emsigen Helfern umgekehrt. Schneiden sie sich aus Versehen fast den Finger ab, schließt sich die Wunde nach Sekunden und heilt in Stunden. Um den Heilungsprozess zu beschleunigen, transportiert ein anderes Modell von Robotern pharmazeutische Wirkstoffe direkt zur Wunde. Science Fiction? Ja. Noch. Aber für wie lange? Die visionäre Kraft des Werkes hat gewiss mehr als eine Hand voll Karrieren von Wissenschaftlern angestoßen. Drexler ist einer der größten und einflussreichsten Propheten aller Zeiten. Die visionäre Kraft, die Entwicklung derartig akkurat vorherzusagen, ist fast schon einzigartig. Wobei man differenzieren muss. Vielleicht wären manche Forschungsansätze ohne seine Impulse gar nicht erst so verfolgt worden. Oder erst viel später. Neben der Biotechnologie ist die Nanotechnologie die Schlüsseltechnik, um endlich alle Eier aus einem Korb heraus zu bekommen. Ohne dieses geniale Duo wird die Kolonialisierung des Weltraums nicht möglich sein. Und davor werden sie gemeinsam das profanere Unterfangen der Lösung sämtlicher Menschheitsprobleme in Angriff nehmen und dabei Erfolg haben. Sicher gibt es auch Risiken, wie ein Grey Goo Szenario oder bei der Biotechnologie die von Menschen selbst geschaffene Superseuche. Ob es das Risiko wert ist, steht nicht zur Debatte. Denn es wird aus Wirtschaftsinteressen ohnehin gemacht werden. Somit ist es Zeitverschwendung, sich damit zu beschäftigen und sich zu fürchten. Entweder der Sprung auf weitere Welten gelingt oder wir löschen uns beim Versuch dazu selbst aus. Oder eine Diktatur in ferner Zukunft verwendet die noch kleineren Nachfolger von Nanorobotern, um direkt im Gehirn die Gedanken, Emotionen und Meinungen der Menschen zu kontrollieren. Ohne dass diese es überhaupt merken. Was die Frage aufwirft, wie man heute ausschließen kann, dass nicht genau das schon seit langer Zeit passiert. Dass Intelligenz und Bewusstsein nicht auf diesem Weg Geburtshilfe erhalten haben könnten. Die frappierende Ähnlichkeit der realen Funktionsweise der DNA und RNA und potentiellen Konstruktions- und Funktionsplänen von Nanorobotern öffnet Raum für Hypothesen. Wenn die Grundbausteine des Lebens ähnliche, zugrunde liegende Funktionsprinzipien haben wie künstliche Organismen, muss es einen Zusammenhang geben. Einen noch zu findenden Kontext zwischen künstlich hergestellter Intelligenz und biologischer Intelligenz in Form von molekularen Maschinen. Beide scheinen auf recht schlichten Grundinstruktionen und Regeln zu beruhen. In ihrem komplexen Zusammenspiel mutieren sie, von selbst evolvierend, weiter und bringen einen ungemeinen Artenreichtum hervor. Der Nanotechnologie sind keine Grenzen gesetzt. Ein Vergleich mit dem Feuer veranschaulicht die Potentiale. Der Mensch lernte vor vielen Generationen, es für sich zu nutzen. Die Kraft der Energie in Form von Waffen, Motoren, Maschinen, Kraftwerken sind Fortsetzungen der Nutzung einer verhältnismäßig trivialen Energie. Mit der Nanotechnologie sind wir an diesem Beginn. Wir laufend johlend mit Fackeln herum, suhlen uns in unserer eigenen Genialität und lösen vielleicht den einen oder anderen, hoffentlich nicht verheerenden Flächenbrand (grey goo) aus. Wenn man 100, 1000 oder gar 10000 Jahre addiert und eine Kooperation mit KI und Gentechnik voraus setzt, ist nichts mehr unmöglich. Etwa ein Weltraumlift, der zuerst zum Bau von Orbitalstationen genutzt benutzt wird. Je mehr Lifte und Stationen entstehen, desto mehr Material kann direkt weiter ins All geschickt werden. Das alles ohne die momentane Beschränkung auf primitive, chemisch angetriebene Raketen. Die Kolonialisierung kann exponentiell immer schneller voran schreiten. Die Raumfahrt wird durch die neuen Werkstoffe erst realistisch. Eine effektive Heilung und Therapie etlicher Krankheiten und die Lösung von Problemen der Umwelt, Knappheit, Produktionsengpässen, Nahrungsmittelproduktion, usw sind möglich. Wenn bereits primitive, sichtbare Roboter Immenses leisten, können unsichtbare Helfer noch viel mehr. Sie können nicht nur ihre riesigen, archaischen Vorgänger warten und reparieren, sondern sich auch selbst modifizieren. Man wird kein Produktionsfließband mit voll automatisierten Robotern mehr brauchen, bei dem alles von Anlieferung bis zu Versand ohne Menschen abläuft. Das wird für unsere Erben im Nanozeitalter steinzeitlich wirken. Sie werden denn Sinn einer solch ineffektiven Massenproduktion nicht verstehen. Denn durch Selbstassemblierung und anfängliche Unterstützung durch 3D Drucker und andere Maschinen werden die Roboter aus zur Verfügung gestellten Grundstoffen alles fertigen können. Keine überschüssige Energieverschwendung oder lange Wege werden mehr notwendig, wenn alles innerhalb kurzer Zeit auf Wunsch hergestellt werden kann. Das größte Potential entfaltet sich, wenn Nanotechnologie und Biotechnologie aufeinander abgestimmt werden. Etwa, wenn eine Gentherapie, ein neu entwickelter Impfstoff, usw von der physischen Unterstützung von Nanorobotern profitiert. Wenn die Natur durch neue Lebensformen restauriert wird und Nanoroboter Schützenhilfe leisten. Die Fusion der Vorzüge beider Technologien in Natur und Mensch wird Cyborgs und transhumanistische Ideen Wirklichkeit werden lassen. In Kombination mit einem alles verbindenden Internet kann von der Entstehung eines Gaiaorganismus gesprochen werden. Die Auswirkungen auf Quantencomputer und Rechenleistung werden uns wie antike Erbsenzähler mit Abakussen wirken lassen. So wie die Miniaturisierung und Mooresches Gesetz bei der bisherigen Entwicklung wird die stetige Verbesserung an den immer kleineren Bausteinen der Realität kratzen. Grundsätzlich sind der sukzessiven Verkleinerung keine Grenzen gesetzt. Wir wissen zu wenig, als dass wir das dezidiert ausschließen könnten. Etwa dass man die Roboter bis in der Größe der Quantenebene oder was darunter liegen mag baut. Das könnte einem Szenario Tür und Tor öffnen, bei dem die Roboter an den Grundfesten der Realität herum pfuschen können. Dass man mit ihrer Programmierung die Gesetze von Raum und Zeit manipulieren kann. Das würde Softwareingenieure in den Status von Göttern erheben. Wie von der, extrem geilen, Simulationshypothese postuliert, könnten die Roboter dann quasi die ausführenden Programmierinstanzen sein sein. Und die kleinsten Bausteine der Realität der Quellcode des Lebens. Und wir Computerprogramme in einer Realität, die von irgendeiner höheren Entität betrieben wird. Vielleicht beginnen auf diese Art und Weise Universen zu entstehen. Wenn Nanoroboter zu Quantenrobotern und schließlich zu irgendetwas hinter den noch unerschließbaren und deswegen verbotenen Zonen werden. Und dann kommt es wie bei Software oder dem Internet zu einer Datenexplosion. Nur dass sich aus Quellcode, Programmen und Algorithmen statt Bildern, Videos und Wörtern stattdessen Universen, Dimensionen, Multiversen und Paralleluniversen bilden.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nick Wellings

    Beautifully bonkers, Drexler's optimistic, visionary tract seems absurdly far fetched nowadays. But, that is most likely because the end result - tiny self replicating machines, structures made of pure diamond, cheap energy and creation, bootstrapping and plenitude, luxury and material wealth for all - would be a kind of utopia. Nevertheless, given some hundreds of years, it may well happen that a world like his will emerge, nanotechnology or no. Certainly, we seem to be approaching limits ever Beautifully bonkers, Drexler's optimistic, visionary tract seems absurdly far fetched nowadays. But, that is most likely because the end result - tiny self replicating machines, structures made of pure diamond, cheap energy and creation, bootstrapping and plenitude, luxury and material wealth for all - would be a kind of utopia. Nevertheless, given some hundreds of years, it may well happen that a world like his will emerge, nanotechnology or no. Certainly, we seem to be approaching limits ever smaller, yet these are till titanically more vast than the nanoscale. If nothing else Engines of Creation is a paen to engineering and material science, soteriological hymn to technology, perhaps as response to 80s politics, perhaps as personal obsession for Drexler, perhaps as unique expression of a scientist's wish to do moral good by providing the conceptual bedrock for creation of material abundance and freedom from care and pain and want. What greater motive than the promise of curing all disease? extending life? colonising other worlds? we may scoff at his optimism, but we would do well to remember Clarke's dictum: 'Any significantly advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.' Indeed, our descendants may one day have the magic given them by this modern day Prometheus. Meantime, we - groping vainly after distant hope - can only dream of their future. If it is anything like Drexler's dream, they might count themselves lucky as they judge us fools for wanting without chance of having.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Brent

    An interesting early look at nanotech. Bottom line summary: Nanotechnology is coming. It will either save us or destroy us. Research for WIP

  4. 5 out of 5

    Rowland

    Engines of Creations is a really exciting book about the possibility of a fantastic future. While nanotechnology is the main part of the book, Drexler talks about Artificial Intelligence (AI), colonisation of space, information management, and an extended almost immortal life. He doesn’t just talk about these things but predicts how these technologies will develop, how we will use them and the social implications. The book can be very technical at times as the author begins by explaining how DNA Engines of Creations is a really exciting book about the possibility of a fantastic future. While nanotechnology is the main part of the book, Drexler talks about Artificial Intelligence (AI), colonisation of space, information management, and an extended almost immortal life. He doesn’t just talk about these things but predicts how these technologies will develop, how we will use them and the social implications. The book can be very technical at times as the author begins by explaining how DNA is a nanomachine and how it encodes and produces every living thing. He uses this as a model for man to design DNA like machines and extends this to nanomachines not based on building proteins but building non-organic machines. Large parts of the book talk about the steps that need to be taken in order to ensure that the technology is produced with appropriate safeguards in place (both physical and political). The book was published in 1986 when html and the web was still being developed. Towards the end of the book there is a chapter on information. He discusses using html and how it will revolutionise the way we store/update documents. He basically explains the web as it is now. The ideas in this book are used extensively in almost every modern sci-fi book or movie out there.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    I read this volume 20 years ago. I am still haunted by all its implications. Nanotechnology was still largely theoretical when I first read the book and I was somewhat incredulous over some of the caveats proferred by Dr. Drexler. The author gives us an amazing overview of the possibilities in nanotech: Imagine "growing a jet engine from a brew of tiny robots in solution. As you watch, the brew quickly morphs into a solid piece of complicated equipment. I was reminded of Arthur C Clarke's 3rd la I read this volume 20 years ago. I am still haunted by all its implications. Nanotechnology was still largely theoretical when I first read the book and I was somewhat incredulous over some of the caveats proferred by Dr. Drexler. The author gives us an amazing overview of the possibilities in nanotech: Imagine "growing a jet engine from a brew of tiny robots in solution. As you watch, the brew quickly morphs into a solid piece of complicated equipment. I was reminded of Arthur C Clarke's 3rd law of technology: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." But there are plenty of caveats as well. Drexler warns of us his "Grey Goo" hypothesis: That a nano robot designed to consume ALL organic matter it comes into contact with and create other identical bots in the process. Such a nightmare scenario would mean the end of all life on the planet in very short order. Scary shit! Even after 20 years, this book is a timely must-read for any engaged citizen.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ned Hanlon

    This is a delightfully ambitious and optimistic view, laying forth a vision of the future and casually brushing a side any existential (if not apocolyptic!) threats striving for the future may have. It is actually a very similar book to Ray Kurzweill's The Singularity is Near . Kurzweil just adds more ego and pictures (which are both lots of fun!) but the content and conclusions are near identical. Of the two I think I would suggest the Kurzweil, primarily because it was written more recently a This is a delightfully ambitious and optimistic view, laying forth a vision of the future and casually brushing a side any existential (if not apocolyptic!) threats striving for the future may have. It is actually a very similar book to Ray Kurzweill's The Singularity is Near . Kurzweil just adds more ego and pictures (which are both lots of fun!) but the content and conclusions are near identical. Of the two I think I would suggest the Kurzweil, primarily because it was written more recently and therefore has a more up-to-date grasp of current technologies.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nasreddin

    This book lies somewhere between science fiction and non-fiction. It is quite intriguing though, how nanotechnology, with its root in bio-tech, can ideally make what we've seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation become a reality. Drexler goes in to depth on explaining the great potential in nano tech, backing his predictions up with numerous pages of notes and references. The part at the end with the text about Hyperspeech, was admittedly amusing given our age now with the internet, and I also sh This book lies somewhere between science fiction and non-fiction. It is quite intriguing though, how nanotechnology, with its root in bio-tech, can ideally make what we've seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation become a reality. Drexler goes in to depth on explaining the great potential in nano tech, backing his predictions up with numerous pages of notes and references. The part at the end with the text about Hyperspeech, was admittedly amusing given our age now with the internet, and I also shook my head at some of the phrases with the "leading force" but one has to remember that he wrote the book while the Soviet Union still existed. All in all, after reading the book I looked up articles on Nanotechnology and was quite happy to see that is indeed a very serious research. Who knows, we might yet end up on our version of the "Enterprise" and explore new worlds.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    I was wild about this book when I read it, but my current understanding is that it has been demonstrated to be false, the technology the book predicts violates quantum mechanics, or so I have read. That said, the three star rating is some kind of average between my original and current thoughts about the book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Scott Spencer

    Hard to believe that this book is so old, but the predictions are dead on in terms of AI, nanotech, and the internet. I don't agree that assemblers will be something that can be caged and regulated as the author claims. Technology has changed since this book was written, but the concepts of how his technology will impact our society are timeless.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Danilo

    While most of changes he predicted still aren't even close(suggesting one could really guess when revolution's around the corner), most of topics provide and interesting take on what nanobots can accomplish.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nadim

    A very hopeful book. Reminded me of the 1960's when we expected technology would solve all future woes. Luckily, he threw in that prediction about ... (I won't spoil it for you)

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ibiblion

    The chapter of hypertext seems too optimistic by nowadays, but nanotechnology is exciting anyway.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Faith

    I want a book like this for every subject I am interested in.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Aman Kumar

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. It was amazing book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    V K

    Very thorough, some progressive content considering when it was written and fairly accessible for someone who is not at all from a technical background

  16. 5 out of 5

    John Grange

    Despite K. Eric Drexler writing this book all the way back in the mid 1980's, his work is still futurism's magnum opus. Somehow, the author very cleverly captured the essence of distant technology and made it feel so attainable and rational. His writing seeps with optimism, which can undermine credibility, but in this instance, that optimism has a wonderful charm. Reading a book like this in 2016 is extra fascinating because it was written almost 30 years ago and made some bold predictions about Despite K. Eric Drexler writing this book all the way back in the mid 1980's, his work is still futurism's magnum opus. Somehow, the author very cleverly captured the essence of distant technology and made it feel so attainable and rational. His writing seeps with optimism, which can undermine credibility, but in this instance, that optimism has a wonderful charm. Reading a book like this in 2016 is extra fascinating because it was written almost 30 years ago and made some bold predictions about the future we live in now. I think Mr. Drexler was extraordinarily prescient on many things and overly optimistic, if not naive, about others. Today, he would likely be very impressed by our technological capabilities with our powerful micro chips and global internet, but also maybe slightly underwhelmed by our progress in biotechnology and genetics. We're far more advanced but not institutionally. My favorite part of the book was the section on hypertext. Reading that passage 30 years later in a world of ubiquitous and pervasive internet connectivity, was a real testament to our progress. His predictions about 'hypertext', the internet, seemed so quaint. Unfortunately, in his portrait of hypertext perfection he didn't predict internet trolling, toxic comments sections, and expansive amounts of useless content. Everything he predicted about the internet ended up coming to fruition but his predictions didn't go far enough. Today's internet is far larger, far more dynamic, far more connected, than he imagined. If Drexler's predictions about the internet are a guide then our nanomolecular future will be bright. His premise is that nature has proven the feasibility of molecular machines, humans have proven the feasibility of constructing very small machines. So our natural technological progression would point to a future of synthetic molecular machines and replicators that transform humanity. It's as fasninating as it sounds and the author paints the most vivid and exciting picture of humanity's future. The book spends a lot of time discussing the risks of the nanotechnology revolution along with motigation strategies. I find this area much less interesting outside of specific technical solutions like Active Shields. Predicting the future of technology can be fun and almost whimsical. Predicting future behavior of a bureaucracy is much less interesting. We don't know what future governments will look like or the ethos of their constituents. Predicting global order and dynamics along with governmental cooperation and alliances is much more pernicious than predicting technical or scientific advances. I say as a devout futurist that this book is one of the best. In our time we are on the precipus of powerful technical AI and people like the author and books like these are why we're here. The future holds great promise and we need individuals like Mr. Drexler to tell the story and help guide the advance.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Bradley King-Spooner

    I require an exclamation. Give me a second... Jesus? Nope, too many connotations. Gods? Bah, presumptuous. Stars above? Getting there. Moral saints? Too mundane. ...Screw it, I'm making a new one: Creation. As Drexler points out at the end of this book, his aim is not to promote nanotechnology, but to "promote understanding of nanotechnology and its consequences". This was relayed exceptionally well, to me at least (other readers seem to have misunderstood), as he analyses, elaborates upon, and ul I require an exclamation. Give me a second... Jesus? Nope, too many connotations. Gods? Bah, presumptuous. Stars above? Getting there. Moral saints? Too mundane. ...Screw it, I'm making a new one: Creation. As Drexler points out at the end of this book, his aim is not to promote nanotechnology, but to "promote understanding of nanotechnology and its consequences". This was relayed exceptionally well, to me at least (other readers seem to have misunderstood), as he analyses, elaborates upon, and ultimately offers in considerable detail the potentials of this forthcoming technology. The concept needs no promoting to me; I am - as the metaphor goes - a member of the choir, but the details of what it might or might not entail, and in such detail as given here, is a gemstone in this personal research venture of mine. That said, this is a specialised book, covering a particular subject. Ergo, unless you - like me - have an interest in nanotechnology beyond such infamous fictional instances as Steven Armstrong's "Nanomachines, son.", I would hesitate to recommend this book to you. It is insightful, and educational in a manner most textbooks can only dream of, but unless you are already engaged on this particular path, I would sooner ask you to walk a gravel footpath (though I may throw you some shoes if I like you). There is no fiction here, no plot, no pacing, no characterisation; none of the lovely things I would either praise or lambaste in most books. There is only sound speculation, written by someone who knows exactly what he is talking about. As a first-timer to nonfiction reads, I find this book cold, but this must be taken with what I have already said, and besides, I like the cold. I consider myself fortunate to have read this book, and will no doubt keep it on-hand for a long time to come. Speculation from the realworld has never before inspired me so.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    This is the masterpiece of physics ideas that: 1) Brought the idea of the Singularity into its modern context 2) Built on Richard Feynman's Essay "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" 3) Brought a top-level hierarchy view of the ultimate possibilities of miniaturization to top-hierarchy-level thinkers like Ray Kurzweil and Marving Minsky. 4) Showed that things can get a lot worse than Stalinism, Hitlerism, etc. Such tyranny could be eternal, and could be in your own mind, without even the ability t This is the masterpiece of physics ideas that: 1) Brought the idea of the Singularity into its modern context 2) Built on Richard Feynman's Essay "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom" 3) Brought a top-level hierarchy view of the ultimate possibilities of miniaturization to top-hierarchy-level thinkers like Ray Kurzweil and Marving Minsky. 4) Showed that things can get a lot worse than Stalinism, Hitlerism, etc. Such tyranny could be eternal, and could be in your own mind, without even the ability to commit suicide to end it. This book explores the darkest ideas of radical "leading force technology." 5) Explored the idea that the assembler arm is an enabling technology, and built upon in the 2.0 update that introduces the author's modifications of his view that free-floating nanobots are unlikely to be the initial implementation of "nanotechnology" in the Drexlerian, proper sense 6) Coined the term "nanotechnology" 7) Coined the concept and term of "molecular manufacturing" 8) Explored the idea of "leading force" arms escalation into miniaturization ...And did a lot of other things too. It's required reading for serious thinkers. It should be considered required reading for libertarian philosophers. It's free online, but sending Eric Drexler a royalty commission is worthwhile, too. This is one of the books that "started it all."

  19. 4 out of 5

    5dd

    An introduction to one of the most brilliant, creative and exciting ideas that mankind has ever had. Really. This book offers a non-technical description of the next technological revolution. Feynman was the first to introduce the idea, but it was Drexler that really ran with it. Drexler is the recognized father of nanotechnology, and humanity doesn't yet realize how much they owe him. Drexler's PhD on nanotechnology (MIT, 1991) was the first ever awarded on the topic for the simple reason that n An introduction to one of the most brilliant, creative and exciting ideas that mankind has ever had. Really. This book offers a non-technical description of the next technological revolution. Feynman was the first to introduce the idea, but it was Drexler that really ran with it. Drexler is the recognized father of nanotechnology, and humanity doesn't yet realize how much they owe him. Drexler's PhD on nanotechnology (MIT, 1991) was the first ever awarded on the topic for the simple reason that nobody else had ever thought about it with such depth and clarity. Even today, the vast majority of the world's scientists and engineers are completely unaware of the magnitude of technological advancement that is available to us through development of ideas that Drexler presented more than 20 years ago. What's more, Drexler recently made the 2nd edition of this book available for download for just $0.99, or free to anybody that would like to read it online. Link: http://www.wowio.com/users/product.as...

  20. 5 out of 5

    Marco Santini

    This is an epoch making book, no doubt, with a strong inspirational content. “There's plenty of room at the bottom” said Richard Feynman in 1959. Almost 30 years later Eric Drexler wrote this book about molecular nanotechnology with a foreword by the AI scientist Marvin Minsky. The futurist Ray Kurzweil, in his 2005 book “The Singularity is Near”, strongly supported Drexler’s ideas. Two years later, in 2007, Drexler himself published “Engines of Creation 2.0”, as a free ebook. How can the whole Li This is an epoch making book, no doubt, with a strong inspirational content. “There's plenty of room at the bottom” said Richard Feynman in 1959. Almost 30 years later Eric Drexler wrote this book about molecular nanotechnology with a foreword by the AI scientist Marvin Minsky. The futurist Ray Kurzweil, in his 2005 book “The Singularity is Near”, strongly supported Drexler’s ideas. Two years later, in 2007, Drexler himself published “Engines of Creation 2.0”, as a free ebook. How can the whole Library of Congress fit on a chip the size of a sugar cube? How can be made and used the so called “universal assemblers”, nano machines able to build objects atom by atom? What’s gray goo? Hypertext, life extension, space colonization, exponential growth are other topics of a book overflowing our mind with technological breakthroughs whose implications can now be imagined only up to a limited extent.

  21. 4 out of 5

    James

    The book that initiated the discussion of what may be the single most important technology of the 21st century. Drexler's careful and yet provocative analysis combined with clear and accessible writing launched nanotechnology into the public consciousness. I first read this book in the late 80's when the ideas were still little known. _Engines_ had me walking around in a daze; literally bumping into walls from the intoxication of the ideas. 25 years after it's first publication anyone familiar w The book that initiated the discussion of what may be the single most important technology of the 21st century. Drexler's careful and yet provocative analysis combined with clear and accessible writing launched nanotechnology into the public consciousness. I first read this book in the late 80's when the ideas were still little known. _Engines_ had me walking around in a daze; literally bumping into walls from the intoxication of the ideas. 25 years after it's first publication anyone familiar with the subject will have seen all of these ideas in other places, but _Engines_ remains the single best treatment of the topic.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hieu Cao

    This book is really thought-provoking. It raises the question of how we should 'foresight' the future. Drexler points out that our perceptions of technology are inert. If we don't transform our institutions, culture, and perceptions to be in pace with the development of technology, technology may spin out of our control. In the book, Drexler uses nanotechnology to illustrate possibilities and dangers of technological development. His vision about assemblers and replicators may be far-fetched but This book is really thought-provoking. It raises the question of how we should 'foresight' the future. Drexler points out that our perceptions of technology are inert. If we don't transform our institutions, culture, and perceptions to be in pace with the development of technology, technology may spin out of our control. In the book, Drexler uses nanotechnology to illustrate possibilities and dangers of technological development. His vision about assemblers and replicators may be far-fetched but his caution about future technology is well-argued and convincing. Highly recommend this book!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Scott Lerch

    I'm not sure why I didn't originally write a review when I first read this, but I still think this is a great visionary work. The molecular nano machines Drexler imagined are getting closer everyday. Back when he wrote this people scoffed at the idea we could do anything described in the book, but in the past decade nano technologies are everywhere in materials, computers, and biology. Sure, we still don't have the general purpose nano assemblers that create anything we want for pennies that are I'm not sure why I didn't originally write a review when I first read this, but I still think this is a great visionary work. The molecular nano machines Drexler imagined are getting closer everyday. Back when he wrote this people scoffed at the idea we could do anything described in the book, but in the past decade nano technologies are everywhere in materials, computers, and biology. Sure, we still don't have the general purpose nano assemblers that create anything we want for pennies that are supposed to end poverty and bring about world peace, but it's seemingly less and less far fetched everyday.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aimme

    This first book on nanotechnology (Doubleday 1986) introduces the subject from a more abstract and long-term perspective. Topics covered include nanotechnology's relationship to scientific knowledge, the evolution of ideas, artificial intelligence, human life span, limits to growth, healing the environment, prevention of technological abuse, space development, and the need for new social technologies-such as hypertext publishing and fact forums-to help us deal with rapid technological change. This first book on nanotechnology (Doubleday 1986) introduces the subject from a more abstract and long-term perspective. Topics covered include nanotechnology's relationship to scientific knowledge, the evolution of ideas, artificial intelligence, human life span, limits to growth, healing the environment, prevention of technological abuse, space development, and the need for new social technologies-such as hypertext publishing and fact forums-to help us deal with rapid technological change.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Michael Lancashire

    I read this book when I was about 16. I remember being inspired and convinced that we were, please pardon the cliche, "only ten years" away from the brave future Eric Drexler described. Well, as will be apparent to anybody reading this around the time I write it, like most confident science prophecies it appears we're still ten years away. But I'm nonetheless excited for that! And the beauty of nanotech having not delivered on its promises quite as quickly as we might have hoped is that this book I read this book when I was about 16. I remember being inspired and convinced that we were, please pardon the cliche, "only ten years" away from the brave future Eric Drexler described. Well, as will be apparent to anybody reading this around the time I write it, like most confident science prophecies it appears we're still ten years away. But I'm nonetheless excited for that! And the beauty of nanotech having not delivered on its promises quite as quickly as we might have hoped is that this book is still a really good introduction to the field.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Adrian Herbez

    great overview of the promise and perils of nanotech. slightly dated now, as nanotech has entered into the public eye, but this gets credit for first bringing it to public attention. Just finished reading this, upping the rating. Talks about numerous other amazing yet plausible future developments. His discussion of the promise of hypertext is especially interesting, as he pretty much gets it right, though he presents it as a distant goal.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    I first learned about Nanotechnology in the 90's from a BBC docmentory- It blew my mind, so I started reading everything I could find about it. Engines of Creation was the first book I read about nanotechnology and it remains my favorite. I love when books lead you on a path to other books and other authors. This was the book that really opened my eyes to science and I have been a closet science geek ever since.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    Well-reasoned, technologically prescient in several regards (not so much its primary thesis yet, but several other tangential topics), and thoroughly engaging. A book likely to change the way one thinks about the future to at least some degree, and many of the ideas presented herein clearly have sticking power as they have been referenced in a number of more recent popular futurist works.

  29. 4 out of 5

    John Brooke

    I read this lucid, clearly written book that has profoundly affected my appraisal of the advances in nano technology to the present day. A futurist that predicated in 1987 what is happeing right now in 2013. A valuable work for anyone interested in the future of mankind. Easy to understand and a worthy read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mattster

    I loved this book, all the advanced technology that could await us in the future, almost a utopia like existance. All our fantasies come true , particle manipulators, real life virtual reality incorporating all 5 senses and many more cool scenarious, excitingly explained by eric drexler. Loved the book and wish there were more like it.

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