Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology (Anchor Library of Science) Paperback – 1 Sep 1988
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This brilliant work heralds the new age of nanotechnology, which will give us thorough and inexpensive control of the structure of matter. Drexler examines the enormous implications of these developments for medicine, the economy, and the environment, and makes astounding yet well-founded projections for the future.
About the Author
K. Eric Drexler is an American engineer best known as the founding father of nanotechnology. Drexler popularized the potential of molecular nanotechnology during his years of study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned three degrees from MIT; a B.S. in Interdisciplinary Sciences, an M.S. in Astro/Aerospace Engineering, and a Ph.D. from the MIT Media Lab. His thesis on molecular nanotechnology, the first doctoral degree on the topic, was published as Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation (1992). The book received the Association of American Publishers award for Best Computer Science Book of 1992. He currently resides in Oxford.
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This book aims for readability and persuasion more than depth, but Drexler's other definitive book, Nanosystems, discusses the concept in more technical detail. For most readers, however, this book is an ideal introduction to Drexler's ideas.
If Drexler is right then once such technology appears the world will be radically different. Engines of Creation is an essential book for anyone interested in future technology.
The book describes several biological machines, and non biological machines, referred as replicants and its possible functions and areas where they can benefit or enhance us. The book is not gigantic and may be read in a week or so, well worth to read it.
The book can be very technical at times as the author begins by explaining how DNA is a nanomachine and how it encodes and produces every living thing. He uses this as a model for man to design DNA like machines and extends this to nanomachines not based on building proteins but building non-organic machines.
Large parts of the book talk about the steps that need to be taken in order to ensure that the technology is produced with appropriate safeguards in place (both physical and political).
The book was published in 1990 when html and the web was still being developed. Towards the end of the book there is a chapter on information. He discusses using html and how it will revolutionise the way we store/update documents. He basically explains the web as it is now.
The ideas in this book are used extensively in almost every modern sci-fi book or movie out there.
I decided to revisit the book, even though it is about a quarter of a century old now. Drexler writes with stream of consciousness-style drawing from science and several centuries of western thought like a polymath Alan Ginsberg on speed. With his theories came justifications and some serious thought given to the consequences of nanotechnology.
The book is also an invaluable read for scientists in the face of skeptics. Drexler's writings on the press and how they view science would be invaluable to a climatologists who now stand by ringing their hands when some of their science has undergone rigorous scrutiny. Drexler maps the kind of communications strategies that they should take.
If this is a topic that you have an interest in, or you want to understand how this technology could change the world, then this is where you should start. It will lay the groundwork that will help you make sense of some of the other works out there.
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