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Nanotechnology in science fiction


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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 5, 2012 2:20:06 PM PDT
Recently I was reading about a newly invented substance that would make the last bit of ketchup slide out of the bottle instead of getting stuck there. I guess they can call it nanotechnology, but some science fiction readers would just call it chemical engineering. We tend to want more from nanotechnology. Since this is the MOA forum, I guess I'll have to talk about the use of nanotechnology in Absorption so as not to be off topic. I'm sure other authors will do the same, purely out of respect for Amazon's rules.

Posted on Jun 5, 2012 3:21:25 PM PDT
It is possible some day nanomachines will reproduce themselves, build buildings, and heal our bodies faster than they can heal themselves. Maybe they can even repair our bodies. Yet becore the age of quantum computers came the age of vacuum tube computers. So in Absorption I gave my nanotechnology fewer capabilities than many authors. They can't reproduce themselves, or even repair their hosts. They just circulate through the blood stream, and when they are in the brain, they can communicate with certain helmets the owner may be wearing. So basically all you have is a telepathic computer interface. Yet consider the possibilities. People could communicate more directly, learn at a greatly accelerated rate, and perhaps even assemble themselves into a hive mind. The latter might seem interesting at first, but it might have unforseen dangers too.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2012 4:17:15 PM PDT
Hello, Mr. Wiseman. Fascinating topic, nanotechnology. Often, it has become overblown in terms of what can realistically be achieved with miniaturization and replication. But I'll play along and address the effects of full-blown nanotech as it is often imagined in sci-fi.

My novel The Steel Deal features a revolutionary alloy called "sentient steel" that propels the plot and the characters' actions. As it is a mystery novel, I don't want to give away too much. But it does cover the moral and economic consequences of a nearly magical technology in a world that, while in desperate need of the benefits of nanotechnology, has more often than not demonstrated the inability to maturely and responsibly handle many other forms of high tech. For examples, nitroglycerin, dynamite, and (to an extent) nuclear enegy were all first idealistically conceived as instruments of peaceful utility; yet they were often used on massive wartime scales. Nanotechnology's unbridled potential literally blows them away, in terms of societal destruction.

Immediately, you could see the apocalyptic weapons potential for miniaturized--and in some cases, self-replicating--machinery. Metal-eating nano machines could neutralize armor; nano machines that disassemble elements could affect nuclear materials that someone might want useless for a surprise attack; and the miniaturized surgical crew in Fantastic Voyage (Special Edition) could wreak all new levels of catastrophic biological terrors on enemies.

Economically speaking, if the replicators in STAR TREK (which are based on popular nanotechnology principles) became a reality, what would that do to the commodities market and commercial/retail? People would have no need to go to the store for much of anything, right? When you could make your own food, clothing, and other goods like the crew of THE ENTERPRISE, wouldn't manufacturing and selling goods be eventually rendered nearly obsolete? Who would ne money to buy stuff with?

Speaking of money, nanotechnology unchecked could easily usher in the quick collapse of a civilization. Those who could afford nanotechnology's magical powers to produce plenty, but unwiling to share it, would constantly be fending off those without it--those poor, hungry, jobless, and desperate. And if an enemy nation wanting it were to supply the nano-haven'ts with weapons to take down the nano-haves...well, see my point?

If develpoed to its full potential, something like nanotechnology will likely become a guarded national secret that is slowly leaked--one small evelopment at a time--into the mainstream, if at all. Maybe we're talking a decade at a time, so as not to destroy civilization as we know it overnight.

Posted on Jun 5, 2012 5:33:05 PM PDT
I like the way you started that book. The bigger the ideas, the more important it is to make the reader care about a character immediately, so there's an anchor. So we have the protagonist living in a dilapidated building, and he has thugs trying to collect money from him. He has a lot of problems, so we empathize with him, but he's also very cool in a dangerous situation, so we like and admire him. He also has a dry sense of humor.

I take the same general approach, though the hero is very different.

Posted on Jun 5, 2012 6:34:40 PM PDT
Well, you sometimes read about the most direct way it could destroy civilization. There's a little bug in the programming, and their reproduction is not limited correctly, so they consume the whole planet, except maybe the core. Doesn't seem that likely to me. The better something is at reproducing in one environment (like bacteria in the human body) the worse it may be in reproducing in different environments.

Posted on Jun 5, 2012 9:10:19 PM PDT
I guess we've been sort of assuming the nanotechnology is made by humans. It doesn't have to be. Assemblers of Infinity

Posted on Mar 22, 2013 12:08:13 PM PDT
Lloyd Blake says:
My novel Intelligenz deals with nanotechnology and sees its use in advanced home appliances. Intelligenz is a thriller where we are shown the pitfalls of one companies dominance of a new nanotechnology led consumer market.
We get to see how this technology destroys lives and if unchecked can bring a huge corporation to its knees. The story is also character driven so we see events through many of the main characters eyes and live and breathe their emotional turmoil. Intelligenz is a fast paced, suspenseful yet thought provoking thriller.

Now available on the Kindle at $1.16
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Discussion in:  Meet Our Authors forum
Participants:  3
Total posts:  7
Initial post:  Jun 5, 2012
Latest post:  Mar 22, 2013

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