[extropy-chat] Re: Self replication again (was MARS: ...

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 19 15:17:38 UTC 2004

--- Chris Phoenix <cphoenix at CRNano.org> wrote:
>  > The second problem is the toughest, building something that is
>  > highly structured atom by atom from a design.
> I don't see what's so tough about this, at least for simple
> chemistries like diamond.  Diamond should be buildable with just a
> operations, parameterized--and the parameterization is part of the
> design, and should be simple to derive from a simple blueprint.

This is a common misperception. You are comparing the making of diamond
to the making of a whole functional machine of diamond. Two entirely
different things. 

Making a hunk of diamond is easy. Happens all the time.

Making parts OUT of diamond, based on a design stored somehow, is an
entirely different ball of wax. First you need to make parts, then put
the parts together.

> Diamondoid as implied ... carbon backbone, but with lots of other
> elements substituted or inserted in idiosyncratic places--may be 
> tougher.  But it appears likely that we can build a molecular 
> manufacturing capability with just diamond and maybe
> graphene/fullerene.

What is the real difficulty is the fact that you want to make your
stuff out of the hardest material around. You can't make parts out of
blocks of such raw material unless your tools are also of the same
material (or harder). This creates a chicken-egg problem: how are you
going to make tools at nano scale out of the hardest material around
unless you already have tools of the same material to make those tools,
and tools to make those tools, etc...

At some point, you have to the hard work that diamond cutters do that
is little more than banging one rock against another. They are pretty
rocks, but rocks nontheless. In nano scales, you are going to have to
make those tools by hand.

The next step will be making a tool making machine from those tools.

When you get to auto-replication, your machines are going to need to be
able to make many tools out of few tools, a veritable fish-and-loaves
issue, such that the net tool production goes into a) making one's
offspring, and b) working on the actual finished product that the owner
wants the machines to produce.

Mike Lorrey
Chairman, Free Town Land Development
"Live Free or Die, Death is not the Worst of Evils."
                                       - Gen. John Stark
Sado-Mikeyism: http://mikeysoft.zblogger.com

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