One of the obstacles for scientists taking molecular nanotechnology (MNT) as seriously as its loyal adherents is that its vision is so technologically distant from what we can accomplish today that good, old-fashioned scientific skepticism just canâ''t be overcome.
But a good step-by-step roadmap for the research, outlining what research can be conducted now, and if that is successful what the next steps could be, would help make some more believers.
To this end, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers held a workshop in October in Washington, DC entitled Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems (TRPN) that was the culmination of two years worth of work by the Foresight Institute in collaboration with the Waitt Family Foundation and the Battelle Memorial Institute, among others.
The roadmap has not yet been completed, but the Foresight Institute is expected to publish something soon.
What may be most heartening about this news is the flexibility afforded the roadmap with the understanding that APM may not be achievable with universal assemblers.
According to Burrows, Eric Drexler himself concedes that even if self-replicating assemblers may be feasible, they may not be the best method for achieving APM, and that further refinements of the vision are to be expected.