Nanotechnology: The Investment with the Largest Payoff in 50 Years
Nanotechnology isn't going away. In fact, it promises to impact so many industries that the word will become ubiquitous in our daily lives.
Nanotechnology conferences make strange bedfellows. Or at least that was the case at a 2002 NanoBusiness conference I attended in New York City that was chaired by Newt Gingrich. Also in attendance was Ray Kurzweil, who told the conference that nanorobots "will enter the human brain and replace human consciousness with virtual reality." And yet that was hardly the strangest thing I heard that day. That moment came when the former House Speaker, a champion of fiscal austerity, called for major government investments in nanotechnology, while heaping praise on the Clinton Administration's National Nanotechnology Initiative. Our political parties agree on very few things these days, and that was certainly the case in 2002. And yet, Gingrich called this federal research and development program "the investment with the largest payoff over the next 50 years."
It very well may be. And perhaps that is why Gingrich, a man affectionately known by some as "Newt Skywalker" -- due to his tech sweet tooth -- is such a fan.
Let's fast forward to the present day.
We are already able to create materials and devices at a scale that was once unimaginable in our physical world. And when advances in science threaten to outpace our moral imagination, we will need new metaphors to make sense of both the physical and the metaphysical conceptions of the world. For instance, this is what the not-so-distant future holds, according to Ray Kurzweil:
Just a few years ago, if I wanted to send you a movie or a book or a recorded album, I would send you a FedEx package. Now I can e-mail you an attachment and you can create a movie or a book from that. In the future, I’ll be able to e-mail you a blouse or a meal.
It is hard to think of an industry that won't be impacted by a technology that promises to become ubiquitous in our daily lives, ranging from medicine and electronics to energy and biomaterials. Fortunes are certain to be made.
Watch Ray Kurzweil on the promise of nanotechnology:
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Torn between absolutism on the left and the right, classical liberalism—with its core values of compassion and incremental progress whereby the once-radical becomes the mainstream—is in need of a good defense. And Adam Gopnik is its lawyer.
- Liberalism as "radical pragmatism"
- Intersectionality and civic discourse
- How "a thousand small sanities" tackled drunk driving, normalized gay marriage, and could control gun violence
Irish president believes students need philosophy.
- President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins calls for students to be thought of as more than tools made to be useful.
- Higgins believes that philosophy and history should be a basic requirement forming a core education.
- The Irish Young Philosopher Awards is one such event that is celebrating this discipline among the youth.
The lost practice of face-to-face communication has made the world a more extreme place.
- The world was saner when we spoke face-to-face, argues John Cameron Mitchell. Not looking someone in the eye when you talk to them raises the potential for miscommunication and conflict.
- Social media has been an incredible force for activism and human rights, but it's also negatively affected our relationship with the media. We are now bombarded 24/7 with news that either drives us to anger or apathy.
- Sitting behind a screen makes polarization worse, and polarization is fertile ground for conspiracy theories and fascism, which Cameron describes as irrationally blaming someone else for your problems.
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