Ideas on the Internet, circulating at neck breaking speed, predict a future explosion in technology. The boldest prognostic is the one for nanotechnology, because it talks aboutextremely small machines, almost invisible, that are able to construct buildings, stop diseases, fight wars, and produce food. But the frightening part is that it is not something crazy: the revolution hasbegun, and in about 50 years humans will be able to see things that most daring science fiction is just beginning to perceive.
51 years ago the physicist Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize,was invited to pronounce a speech in a technological institution in California. It could have been another piece of oratorio, pronounced by an illustrious scientist, but this time it was not likethis. In fact, his suggestion generated an echo that every time sounds stronger. “Do not speak against the possibility of maneuvering things atom by atom. It is not an attempt to violate any laws; it issomething, in principle, that can be done; but in practice, it has not been done because we are too big… Ultimately, we can do chemical synthesis… put the atoms down where the chemist says, and so youmake the substance” (Drexler 40- 41). Feynman said in 1959. And that is the base of a science that has a name that is more pronounced day by day: nanotechnology.
The definitive thesis is that if weborrow ideas from the nature and count on the capacity generated by the advances in science, it will be possible to construct machines that are going to be able to influence the order of atoms, in sucha precise way as to emulate the creation process. Machines that will be represented by "any system, usually rigid bodies, formed and connected to alter, transmit, and direct applied forces in apredetermined manner to accomplish a specific objective, such as the performance of useful work" (Drexler 5).
To understand what is the scope of this crusade, it is necessary to clarify that the...