The recently dubbed ''enfant terrible'' of nanotech, Tim Harper, has neatly wrapped up a package of comeuppance for nanotechnology-hype masters. Now we just need to wait and see if circumstances actually allow the package to be delivered.
Harper relates how he recently received an e-mail from the NanoBusiness Alliance (NBA) asking about how many jobs have been created by nanotech. It seems the Senators and government types that have been pouring government funding into nanotech with the expectations it was going to fuel a new economy want to see what the impact has been 8 years into the program.
Uh oh'Daddy wants to know where his car is. In keeping with his ''enfant terrible'' reputation, Harper puts it in terms that are stark and at the same time ring quite true.
Well the lesson for today, ladies and gentlemen, is it doesn''t matter whether you are hyping nanotech or running a Ponzi scheme, if you can''t deliver and you stick around too long you''ll get caught out. Most of the early nanotech boosters are now boosting clean tech, or synthetic biology, or geoengineering. While not many of them have a clue what they are talking about, at least they had enough sense to skedaddle before any of the predictions came true.
Or not true, as the case may be. And what has been delivered, according to Harper, amounts to'not much, if you insist on measuring only those jobs that have been created in a so-called ''nanotech industry''. ''The number of sustainable jobs created will be under a thousand, as most ''nanotech companies'' seem to subsist on SBIR and DARPA grants without showing any signs of real growth,'' he says.
But will the NBA be able to go back to their Senators and explain that they need to consider jobs created in textiles, pharmaceuticals and computers that are involved with working on the nanoscale after spending years talking about a ''nanotech industry''? Well sometimes Daddy just likes to sound tough but is really just a pushover. So, who knows?