Category:Dimensions of development

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Making effective policy for advanced nanotechnology (referred to here as molecular manufacturing, or MM) will be a difficult challenge for many reasons. Until the technology is fully developed, there may be little apparent incentive for policy creation. But the late stages of development could occur very rapidly, and the inherent ease of proliferation after development will likely spread the disruptive effects much faster than existing policy can handle. Some analysts, such as the nonprofit Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, are calling for urgent investigation into policy options. The issues involved are highly complex, involve multiple factors, and may take years to sort through.

At least six different dimensions have been identified along which nanofactory technology may be developed.

NUMBER: Single, Dual, or Multiple
STYLE: Open, Public, or Covert
VENUE: National, Multinational, or Global
APPROACH: Competitive, Cooperative, or Separate
PROGRAM: Government, Corporate, Private, or Mixed
PACE: Accelerated, Gradual, or Incidental

With three or four directions within each dimension, the number of possible permutations is in the high hundreds. This means that policy and strategy planning must take into account an enormous range of variables and potential outcomes. See Development Mode: Multiple Open Global Cooperative Private Gradual for one example. See also the debate page on the possibility of a Secret US MM Project.

Some combinations, in rough order of probability of forming at some point:

  • Multiple Covert National Competitive Government Accelerated
    • Nations racing to be first, for military advantage/security
  • Multiple Public Multinational Cooperative Mixed Gradual
    • Nations/corporations share costs, expecting it to take a long time
  • Multiple Covert Global Competitive Corporate Accelerated
    • Corporations race to be first, for commercial advantage
  • Multiple Open Global Cooperative Private Gradual
    • Hackers organize to develop nanotech tools
  • Single Covert Multinational Separate Corporate Incidental
    • An unexpected break-through by one corporation drives development

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