Nordic Track Book Club Review: Our Molecular Future

Our Molecular Future was an engrossing read while Nordic Tracking. I HIGHLY recommend it. The author, Douglas Mulhull, did a wonderful job of describing the technologies that have the potential of profoundly changing our world, where they stand in development today, their benefits as well as their potential for harm. No rosey portrayals or pie-in-the-sky prognostications of the good life in 2027. Honest contemplations of possibilities awaiting us (or our kids.)

Let me share a few excerpts and concepts to give you a taste of what the book covers.

“The tools that let us manipulate molecules multiply every day. They are in the process of transforming humanity more profoundly than the car, telegraph, phone, radio, and television combined.”

Digital fabrication, also known as rapid prototyping and desktop manufacturing. p. 43 “We’re talking about transforming the Internet from a medium of communication to a medium for delivering manufactured goods.” p. 45

Detailed technical description of electronic paper and various types in development.

How with nanotechnology current primitive coatings and paints can perform any of hundreds of kinds of functions, like being graffiti resistent, generate electricity, change color on demand. p.65

Good discussions on concepts of Robo servers, Robo sapiens, and homo provectus. Their societal impact and “human“ rights.

Space elevators and a number of technologies too numerous for this review. Very exciting stuff!  One of my favorites was Utility Fog, a space-filling fog comprised of self-replicating nanorobots which can serve as a cushion for protection purposes in an earthquake or car crash. p.209

“The cost of goods isn’t determined by the price of materials anymore; rather, it’s set by the price of the software to manufacture them and the fees of those who imagine them.” p.99

In depth discussion on “how to survive in the Post-Human Era.” Or the end of the age of dominance by Homo sapiens on the planet.

Detailed section in the book on nature’s time bombs, different approaches (absorption, system adaptation, avoidance) and how molecular and other advanced technologies can save us. Example given of a planet-killing asteroid being “eaten” by self-assemblying nanobots. Maybe too much of the book was focused on impending disasters and the role of nanotechnology, but these were topics we all need to be thinking about to some degree.

Much more here. Very engrossing and stimulating.

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A long time developer, I was an early adopter of Linux in the mid-90's for a few years until I entered corporate environments and worked with Microsoft technologies like ASP, then .NET. In 2008 I released Sueetie, an Online Community Platform built in .NET. In late 2012 I returned to my Linux roots and locked in on Java development. Much of my work is available on GitHub.