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Sure, They're Nice Now...

Glenn Reynolds on the comparison/contrast between Eric Drexler and Aubrey de Grey:

I think that de Grey is a bit naive in saying that because people are cordial and give him intellectual respect, he's safe. Drexler got the same respect and courtesy, until he didn't. The nanotechnology industry folks decided to try to marginalize Drexler because they didn't want people talking about "spooky" advanced technologies for fear that such talk would lead to pressure for more regulation. That was, as I've said before, a deeply unwise move that may still come back to harm the industry. De Grey is probably safe from such attacks, but it's because the political configuration is different.

I wonder if Aubrey is treated better because this issue strikes closer to home? We all have a vested interest in life extension. And it may be true that we also all have a vested interest in nanotechnology, but that isn't as readily apparent to most observors.

Speaking of life extension, we have been remiss in not noting the second blogiversary of one of our favorite sites, Fight Aging! (Too much business travel lately.)

Congrats, Reason, and please do keep up the good work.


I think there's a couple of obvious difference between the two. Eric Drexler still has more influence in the nanotechnology community than Aubrey de Grey. So Drexler is more of a threat. Second, Drexler ran into conflict first. He actually butted heads with people over real money, billions of dollars of real money.

The attacks on Drexler have been rather petty at times:

"K. Eric Drex, K. Eric Drex / The man who dispensed with reality checks"

That is an actual quote from William Atkinson's book Nanocosm.

There is room for disagreement on the feasibility of molecular manufacturing, but this doesn't seem to elevate discourse.

Hmmm, that book (Nanocosm) has the most negative review I've ever seen on Amazon. I wonder who decides what reviews get seen by the buying public?

Apparently, Atkinson did a number of petty attacks in that book (according to said negative review)? I have no idea why the American Management Association (the publisher) thought this guy was worth publishing.


I wouldn't say that Nanocosm was a complete waste of time. Atkinson interviewed many people from all over the world who are involved in nanotech - in person. When the book is based on those interviews its quite good.

It's just weird that he would allow his workmanlike approach to be almost ruined by the tiresome rants against Drexler.

Smalley disagreed strongly with Drexler, but was never this petty.

Here's a link to my Nanocosm review.

Here's a link to Chris Phoenix's critique of the book for Nanotechnology Now.

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