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GenericThinker comments on Total Nano Domination - Less Wrong

11 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 27 November 2008 09:54AM

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Comment author: GenericThinker 27 November 2008 02:42:47PM -1 points [-]


"Also do you have some FLOPS per cubic centimeter estimations for nanocomputers? I looked at this briefly, and I couldn't find anything. It references a previous page that I can't find."

FLOPs are not a good measure of computing performance since Floating Point Calculations are only one small aspect of what computers have to do. Further the term nanocomputers as used is misleading since all of todays processors could be classified as nanocomputers the current ones using the 45nm process moving to the 32nm process.


"Just to make it clear why we might worry about this for nanotech, rather than say car manufacturing - if you can build things from atoms, then the environment contains an unlimited supply of perfectly machined spare parts. If your moleculary factory can build solar cells, it can acquire energy as well."

Ignoring the other obvious issues in your post, this is of course not true. One cannot just bond any atom to any atom this is well known and have something useful. I would also like to point out that everyone tosses around the term nano including the Foresight institute but the label has been so abused through projects that don't deserve it that it seems a bit meaningless.

The other issue is of course this concept that we will build everything from atoms in the future that you seem to imply. This is of course silly since building a 747 from atoms up is much harder then just doing it the way we do it now. Nano engineering has to be applied to the right aspects to make it useful.

"I don't think they've improved our own thinking processes even so much as the Scientific Revolution - yet. But some of the ways that computers are used to improve computers, verge on being repeatable (cyclic)."

This is not true either, current computers are designed by the previous generation. If we look at how things are done on the current processors and how they were done we see large improvements. The computing industry has made huge leaps forward since the early days.

Finally I have trouble with the assumption that once we have advanced nanotech whatever that means that we will all of a sudden have access to tremendously more computing power. Nanotech as such will not do this, regardless of whether we ever have molecular manufacturing we will have 16nm processors in a few years. Computing power should continue to follow Moore's law till processor components are measured in angstroms. This being the case the computer power to run the average estimates of the human brains computational power already exist. The IBM Roadrunner system is one example. The current issue is the software there is no end to possible hardware improvement but unless software matches who cares.