When serial entrepreneur Larry Bock’s Palo Alto startup, Nanosys, pulled its IPO a year ago this month, it helped to deflate financial interest in nanotech. But Bock, Nanosys’s chairman, says his confidence in nanotech’s future has not diminished.
Skeptics call nanotech a great collection of small markets with no killer app. That’s probably true in the short term, but even three years out, some of the things we’ll see will be monumentally world changing.
Is the federal National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) helping things along?
One of the industry’s ongoing problems is the gap between basic and applied research. People call it “the valley of death” – too big or long-range for the VCs to handle, too applied for academics. NNI should be a helpful bridge.
Environmentalists have nanotechnology on their watch list. Are you worried about a repeat of what happened with genetic engineering?
It has people in the industry concerned, sure. The big difference is that unlike genetic engineering, nanotechnology is a thousand different things. There’s an obvious distinction between using metric tons of carbon nanotubes to fill tires versus someone making a single nanowire sensor. That’s why you need to open a dialogue with critics and start doing an individual risk-benefit analysis for every application.
More evidence that the blanket term “nanotech” is pretty useless?
There’d be a lot less hype and confusion if everyone used the NNI definition – exploiting novel properties and functions of materials in the sub-100-nanometer size range. I don’t think golf balls loaded with nanomaterials should necessarily be labeled nanotechnology.
These weird virtual creatures evolve their bodies to solve problems
They show how intelligence and body plans are closely linked—and could unlock AI for robots.
A horrifying new AI app swaps women into porn videos with a click
Deepfake researchers have long feared the day this would arrive.
Chinese hackers disguised themselves as Iran to target Israel
But they left a few clues that gave them away.
DeepMind says it will release the structure of every protein known to science
The company has already used its protein-folding AI, AlphaFold, to generate structures for the human proteome, as well as yeast, fruit flies, mice, and more.
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