The emergence of nanotechnology in recent decades gives much fodder for speculation and daydreaming, and many questions around the potential of nanotechnology to help us acheive sustainability have come to me. As I find the topic intriguing, I will share some of my questions and speculations with you here, and hope to live long enough to see at least some of the knowledge involved being found, studied, and used to make life better for all life on Earth. Please read on, and I welcome you to add your ideas, concerns, and thoughts in the comments.
If nano-tech is going to be a big part of a more sustainable future, where and how will all these nano- and micro-bots be produced? Will they come from big, sophisticated, high tech factories, or will they be grown in vats, or on organisms? Will cows or pigs produce the majority of our nano-devices, or will they be grown in tanks of culturing tissue? Will we keep a pig in our back yard to eat our left over food, root up and fertilize our home garden, and produce bio-nanobots for us? Will they be grown in and on our own bodies, where they will live and work out their tiny lives? Will they be passed from parent to child? Will we achieve telepathy from specialized nerve cells with radio transceiving capabilities? Will our skin be able to change its shade to protect us from the sun, from the heat and cold, or to make us look the way we’d like? Could we eventually be able to survive in a hard vacuum, or in the extremely high pressures of the ocean depths, with the help of specially designed physical capabilities?
Perhaps at first the nanobots will come from big factories and bio-mills.
Then, as technology improves, our nanobot helpers might be produced by specially selected and prepared animals.
Later, our little nano-helpers might be designed into implants we would eventually receive in infancy, without which a human would be much less capable, and possibly less-accepted or even regarded as a lesser, ancient species.
Eventually, however, nanotechnology designs might be engineered into our DNA so that we produce improved versions of cells we now use, plus new types of cells with different and ever-more sophisticated functions.
Of course, any of these stages might be skipped or passed in a very short time, while others could last for decades (hopefully not centuries). Along the way these technological developments, like most in history, will be applied to bad ends, and this may stall progress from time to time, and possibly endanger part or all of life on the planet – anything is theoretically possible. Hopefully, though, humanity will learn to live in a holistic, planet-wide ecological system, and continue to make progress through good times and bad, surmounting each challenge, and achieving a sustainable existence into the indefinite future.