[extropy-chat] Name that system

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Wed Dec 20 16:35:43 UTC 2006

Robert Bradbury wrote:
> That is the point I would like to make -- people are
> passively or actively choosing to ignore the wind.
> Both of those fronts present a far greater "reality check"
> than Google buying out You Tube for $1.65B.  To sit here
> on the "extropian channel" and argue philosophy seems to
> me to be a testimony as to ones lack of awareness with
> respect to how the winds are blowing. 
> The informed and aware individual is not content to be
> handed his or her battlefields.  Instead he or she designs
> and dicates them.  Only then may the outcomes be more
> probable.

Robert, in your posts to Amara and me yesterday your sense of urgency
and frustration comes through loud and clear.

As to whether I lack awareness of how the winds are blowing, my primary
focus each working day is exactly that subject, developing systems for
discovery and extraction of technical information and trends from the
complex storm systems of the net.  I spend most of my time lately
immersed in programming and keeping up with developments in
computational linguistics, text mining, information retrieval and
visualization.  When I look at the output of my system, I see many
different winds blowing, and I see some trends in common.  At the
highest level, I see technology accelerating, and human wisdom nearly
stalled. So I choose my battles, and I choose to attack areas crucial to
the development of wisdom.

Thanks for the pointer to the work at Nanorex.  I'm pleased with the
work they're doing with atomic level CAD/simulation software (but why in
the world did they state performance in terms of hours to process on a
laptop running XP?), but I would like to see much more empirical work.
As you may know, until May of 2006 I was a technical manager with the
world's leading manufacturer of Atomic Force Microscopes, and I'm well
aware of the many serious challenges involved in probing nanoscale
structures, but the challenge of picking and placing an assortment of
atoms in an assortment of configurations far exceeds the measurement
problem.  The pure designs are neat, but I'd like to know more about how
they'll deal with the inevitable contamination from stray atoms and
water molecules at various stages of the process.  I see some elegant
mechanical designs, but I don't see the robustness that comes with the
organic configurations of nature. Any pointers to relevant recent
thinking on this would be appreciated.

> What may not be clear is the jump from the ~2600 atom
> fine motion controller design to the ~25,000 atom worm
> gear design.   That is an order of magnitude jump
> by ~4 people.  The jump to multi-million atom nanoassembly
> arms is only two more orders of magnitude.  400 people or
> much more clever design... you be the judge. 

Robert, on what basis do you think you can scale such a project in such
simple terms?  I don't know what else to say here.

- Jef

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