From: Dani Eder (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Sep 30 2004 - 11:08:34 MDT
> Assuming true general purpose nano-assemblers by
> (Moore's law), it would take another 15 years or so
> to develop full-blown nano-applications widely
>avaliable outside the lab. So the nano-revolution
>should be hitting us in force around 2030.
Nanotech is a special case of highly automated
manufacturing, where the machine tools and the
products are very small. An acceleration of the
'industrial revolution' is already occurring.
You can see effects such as the loss of manufacturing
jobs in industrial regions of the US, and the
increasing rate of productivity growth. One
local example is a Toyota engine plant being built
in Huntsville, AL. They are investing $625,000 per
employee in the factory (lots of equipment, few
workers), and will require less than 4 hours labor
per engine produced (highly automated). There is
so little labor input that being close to the
car assembly plants (Indiana and Texas) outweighs
the possible savings from cheap offshore labor.
I've noticed quite a few such announcements of
high factory investment per employee recently.
The productivity trend points to highly automated
factories being widespread around 2020. The rate
of investment in business buildings and equipment
($1T per year) vs the existing stock of such ($12T)
seems to point to a wholesale replacement in 12
years, which is in rough agreement.
My point is that high levels of automation can be
just as revolutionary on the macroscale as on the
nano-scale, and it's already started. A self-
replicating assembler the size of an industrial
park can have just as much impact as one the
size of a bacterium if the replication time scales
are similar. The Toyota engine factory noted above
will produce approximately it's own value in
engines per year, of which about half the value
is produced in-house (the balance is purchased
parts). So it has a reproduction time constant
of 2 years.
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