I’ve said before that the only way I think we beat the civilization-killing mess we’re in is technology. For one, tech in the last twenty years is the sort of tech that empowers the individual, from news to entertainment — the fields I know.
A commenter asked about nanotech — a field I don’t know — and M. Simon promised to write something about it. He did.
My only issue with it, is that I don’t recall saying that a financial crash can stop it — I think the financial crash that will stop all the new tech is so massive it will stop civilization too. I’m hoping we don’t have that. I’m very much hoping we don’t have that. Sometimes I think it’s what the enemies of the future want, though. They understand medieval. It’s the future that scares them.
One other minor quibble is asking how much of this will come to a stop when (?) Lockheed Martin gets whacked by the fiscal cliff (that one seems fairly sure.)
This is what M. Simon has to say:
One thing holding back the use of nanotubes is that they are relatively expensive to make. Not a significant problem for computer chips, but if you want wires five times more conductive than copper, you are going to need kilograms and megatons of the material. Researchers at Rice University believe they have an answer to that problem. A Professor of Chemistry at Northwestern University (just North of Chicago) believes he has a better answer. He has started a company, Nanointegris, to explore the possibilities. Right now, they are focusing on carbon nanotube inks. They have also branched out into graphene. That has great potential for replacing the conductive indium tin oxide coating on touch screens. Indium is kind of rare, so this development has great possibilities. And they have actual products for sale.
Well Sarah (and commenter), I hope that has answered your question about the near future of nanotechnology. I think we are in a short pause between Kondratieff Waves. In my opinion, the time between waves is getting shorter, so we will not have too long to wait before the next wave takes off. My estimation is that we will see macro economic results in five to ten years. An eternity if the present economic cycle is causing you a lot of suffering but in historical terms a fraction of an eye blink.