Usually Jones has a lot of things technically accurate but he will write about the Singularity and molecular nanotechnology as if his views are new and will recast a portion of what other people said or did. Jones also ignores or is not aware of important existing work that disproves or circumvents what he is talking about. Jones also likes to look around at the current state of progress in nanotechnology in particular work being done in the UK and then claim those as successes for his vision and then disparage areas of nanotechnology that have had less funding and effort.
Jones has a new article at Hplus magazine.
Looking at diamondoid mechanosynthesis as technology in context
Yes, Diamondoid mechanosynthesis has not been commercially developed. Plenty of technology and products have not been developed yet or were delayed for many decades but not because they were technologically impossible. Molecular Mechanosynthesis has had demonstrations at room temperature
There is theoretical and experimental work that details the feasibility of molecular mechanosynthesis.
A 2011 theoretical paper by Damian G. Allis, Brian Helfrich, Robert A. Freitas Jr., and Ralph C. Merkle.
The results of a combined molecular dynamics/quantum chemistry pathology study of previously reported organic (diamondoid) tooltips for diamondoid mechanosynthesis (DMS) are presented. This study, employing the NanoHive@Home (NH@H) distributed computing project, produced 80,000 tooltip geometries used in 200,000 calculations optimized at either the RHF/3-21G or RHF/STO-3G levels of theory based on geometries obtained from high-energy molecular dynamics simulations to produce highly deformed starting geometries. These 200,000 calculations have been catalogued, grouped according to energies and geometries, and analyzed to consider potentially accessible defect structures (pathologies) for tooltip geometries either binding a carbon dimer (C2 feedstock or not containing the transported dimer feedstock. The transport and deposition of feed-stock and the stability of the tooltip between dimer “loading” cycles are important geometries thatmust be considered as part of a tooltip stability analysis. The NH@H framework is found to be a useful method both for the study of highly deforming covalent geometries and, using lower-temperature MD simulations, for generating and optimizing molecular conformations (demonstrated using biotin, n-heptane, and n-octane in this study). The results of the pathology survey are discussed and general considerations for the exploration of DMS tooltip usability are explored.
More efficient electrical grid and the vision of carbon nanotube electrical grid
Nextbigfuture has criticized the Richard Smalley vision of a carbon nanotube electrical grid in the past.
* Richard Smalley made the promise of a vision for a carbon nanotube electrical grid back in 1995.
* Smalley criticized the vision of mechanical nanotechnology as being scientifically impossible. However, there has be experimental proof that molecules can be moved and made to react with atomic precision
* Despite tens of millions in funding Smalley and now 8 professors and labs that continue the work have not delivered one meter of commercial carbon nanotube cable after 18 years.
Smalley and Rice University and the carbon nanotube industry has had hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and many hundreds of researchers. Yet nearly 20 years later the Smalley vision is not close to commercialization.
What is the difference between Drexler's Nanosystems book and vision of diamondoid mechanosynthesis and Smalley's carbon nanotube grid ?
Smalley's vision had more hundreds of times more money and research and still failed to deliver.
Drexler had some volunteer and part time work by a handful of people.
Why are there not people writing about Why are we not there yet for Smalley's molecular nanotechnology vision ?
Why is there not more criticism of the funded effort versus the unfunded lack of effort ?
This effect also can be seen with proposal for space and energy technology. Researchers and people will slander and trash space and energy technology proposals to nip competing plans in the bud so that their slow to deliver efforts keep getting funded.
People working on the Tokomak will trash other nuclear fusion efforts to keep the billion dollars per year flowing to ITER.
It happens less frequently in other applications of technology and business because there are fewer potentially disruptive ideas that need to be blocked. There has been efforts to sideline the factory mass produced skyscraper from Broad Group of China. Here it cannot be said to be totally infeasible to build the tallest building with a method that has already produced a 30 story building but they can cast doubt on safety and claim that wind will cause problems for a tall structure built in a new way.
Competing technology and approaches to less electrical losses in the electrical grid
Let us say the current work allows some carbon nanotubes to be produced. The world production of carbon nanotubes is over 1500 tons per year now. Armchair quantum wire is probably in milligram non-pure quantities in 2011 and recent breakthroughs may bump it up to semi-pure gram or kilogram quantities in 5 years.
About 1 million tons of copper is used for the global electrical grid. It has taken many decades to build out the worlds electrical grids. Even if carbon nanotube cables were 60 times less carbon nanotubes that would still be over a million tons of armchair carbon nanotubes.
Meanwhile ultra-high voltage lines save 30-40% of the energy losses and are deployed now. China is spending billions to build out ultra-high voltage grid to reduce energy losses.
Superconductors are being deployed to several major electric grid projects around the world.
This article discussed the economics and energy benefits of superconducting wire.
I think superconductors will be doing the job of making the electrical grid more efficient. I don't think rocking chair nanotubes will be able to get much market traction in 12-25 years. There would have to be massive production breakthroughs very much like the vision of molecular nanotechnology for the situation to change.
Electric Cars Example
Many people believed that electric cars could not be commercially successful and had technological barriers. There was also blame on battery technology.
This was detailed in a documentary and book "Who Killed the Electric Car ?" in 2006
Industry representatives in the movie blamed consumers for not wanting the electric car.
All of the incorrect allegations in the movie were disproved with the commercial success of Elon Musk's Tesla electric cars. Consumers did not want electric cars but the the inferior GM EV1 car. The technology was sufficient to produce a successful electric car.
Currently Jones is making a big deal about the potential of Quantum computers enabled by nanotechnology. I agree this has high potential. However, quantum computers based upon superconducting technology is already here and commercialized by Dwave Systems. They have their 512 qubit system.
The leaders in quantum dot based systems which could be applied to quantum dot quantum computing or to quantum dot cellular automata is Robert Wolkow in Alberta. There is also leading quantum dot work from Michelle Simmons in Australia. Nextbigfuture has been tracking Simmons work since 2005 and Wolkow since 2009.
Jones makes distinctions against what against hard nanostructures which was described in Drexlers book Nanosystems (diamondoid nanotechnology)
Here is a response that I wrote to a Jones article in IEEE in 2008.
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