K. Eric Drexler is the founding father of nanotechnology - the science of engineering on a molecular level. In Radical Abundance, he shows how rapid scientific progress is about to change our world. Thanks to atomically precise manufacturing, we will soon have the power to produce radically more of what people want, and at a lower cost. The result will shake the very foundations of our economy and environment.
Already, scientists have constructed prototypes for circuit boards built of millions of precisely arranged atoms. The advent of this kind of atomic precision promises to change the way we make things - cleanly, inexpensively, and on a global scale. It allows us to imagine a world where solar arrays cost no more than cardboard and aluminum foil, and laptops cost about the same.
A provocative tour of cutting edge science and its implications by the field’s founder and master, Radical Abundance offers a mind-expanding vision of a world hurtling toward an unexpected future.
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Drexler Rehashes the Past
I would gladly listen to Tim Pabon's reading again any time, Drexler is out of the question, though.
Drexler spends very much of the book bemoaning and complaining about the failure and misuse by Government Bureaucracy that supposedly caused his original fostering of Nano-Technology to fail.Because the term was 'usurped' by marketing and media hype he has now restyled Nanotechnology as "Atomically Precise Manufacturing " (which is the same day-dream, with very different marketing).
In this book Drexler complains at length about the hype that amateur enthusiasts and the media heaped on his first vision of Nanotechnology, deriding their nightmare visions of the 'Gray Goo' problem, and the "wild" fantasies of Blood-bourne robots that were supposed to fix cancer and other health problems. Somehow he denies (and also somehow forgets) that these very ideas were discussed and promoted in his book "Engines of Creation". If I recall correctly, Chapter 2 discussed small robots that could repair our cells and "even reverse aging", perhaps even defeating old age and death. The gray goo problem of nanotech run amok was discussed extensively in "Engines" to encourage pre-emptive oversight and guidance. Drexler now blames his enthusiastic followers for these fantasies and nightmares, dissociating himself entirely from them - which is considerably disingenuous of him.
And finally, despite his strident attempts to make APM sound plausible and reasonable, his own repeated notes of caution, hesitation and "maybe" statements make his arguments unconvincing.
This seems to be just an attempt to make one last bit of money out of Nanotechnology.
While Tim Pabon has the occasional pronunciation difficulty with some technical and scientific terms, his reading is clear and consistent, and never befuddled, despite the complexity of Drexler's language and technical jargon. Excellent job.
I was angered by Drexler's blaming his enthusiastic followers for concepts and ideas he created himself (and now denies creating). I was disappointed in the overall tone of this fairly feeble attempt to describe the same old thing a different way.
At one time I believed in the possibility of Nanotechnology or Atomically Precise Manufacturing (call it what you will), but based on this and the "where's my Jetpack" lack of development in 30 years, I will not be holding my breath during my lifetime, nor expect any Blood-bourne robots to resurrect me (which Drexler himself suggested in Engines of Creation, but now claims were over-enthusiastic fantasies by "amateurs"). Very bad.
A most difficult book for a layman
The best part was the concept. The worst part was 28 hours of listening and never really understanding how this was going to happen. Eric Drexler proposed this theory 25 years ago in a book, and apparently it created a big stir, to the point where, in 2000 President Clinton got Congress to appropriate a big chunk of cash to research the concept, and mind you it's a concept, not anywhere near something that's a reality. Here we are another 13 years later and I just don't see anything in this book that says we're any nearer. The author seems to be saying "we can do this if only the researchers would not keep side-tracking "ATM", the core of the concept. No question the concept is provocative, but where's is the reality? Also, parts were repetitive and really wordy. For example, describing the difference between a scientist and an engineer took at least two hours of listening. I gritted my teeth and listened to it all. What I took away was that Atomically-Precise Engineering ("ATM" as it's called in the book) is a theory. It's never been done, and I didn't hear in the book that anyone, anywhere is seriously trying to do it. .
The problem is not the narrator. It's understanding the book.
Yes, I'll be on the lookout for more on this subject.