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OA nanotech vs popsci nanotech - Alphadon - 06-20-2017

What is the closest to realistic portrayal of nanotech in soft sci-fi? What is the least realistic? (Aw, we all know the answer to that-I'm looking at you, Borg nanoprobes that magically create metal.) What about nanofabs? (As originally formulated, Drexlerian assemblers are clearly infeasible, and that is what most sci-fi nanotech seems to be based on.)


RE: OA nanotech vs popsci nanotech - Rynn - 06-21-2017

I liked the portrayal in Neal Asher's polity series. For the most part nanotechnology (in the SF sense of nanobots, smart matter etc. Not the current real world field) is powerful but highly specialised. It takes a long time to design and test. In the first book a formidable AI has to spend hours and most of it's attention to adapt a nanotech virus to counter an infection of alien technology, when it's done it's still not confident. Medical uses require constant supervision whilst the colonies of self replicating bots work under the watchful eye of an AI (whilst the patient floats in a tank).

There's an alien technology that is a central plot part to the series that is essentially uber-smart matter. In it's dormant form it appears as a metal egg that grows out, bonding with a sentient being. Aside from enhancing them it can grow from them like a fungas and do all manner of tasks. There's a great scene where thousands of scientists (from regular humans through robots all the way up to powerful AI) are trying to reverse engineer the technology. It's hideously complex though. One character spends an incredibly long time with a high tech lab just to barely figure out what one type of tool tip does.

More than anything it's a good read. But if you're looking for realism? Pfft. The field is nothing like what they portray in science fiction. You might as well be asking for realistic interstellar colonisation fiction in 1950. We could end up with something akin to sci fi, or we'll end up with something akin to very efficient, exotic biotechnology.


RE: OA nanotech vs popsci nanotech - JohnnyYesterday - 06-21-2017

The Diamond Age has the best treatment of it that I've seen. Neal Stephenson isn't STEM-illiterate and actually read Nanosystems before he wrote it. He does use the rod-logic nanomechanical computers, which were really only meant to be proof of concept, not anywhere near ideal, but this works stylistically because of other conceits in the novel.

It's a damn-good read, hilarious and heart-breaking.


RE: OA nanotech vs popsci nanotech - Rynn - 06-21-2017

I should re-read the diamond age. It's been a long time and I remember being unsatisfied by the story, if not the world.


RE: OA nanotech vs popsci nanotech - terranova210486 - 08-10-2017

(06-21-2017, 02:28 PM)What JohnnyYesterday Wrote: The Diamond Age has the best treatment of it that I've seen. Neal Stephenson isn't STEM-illiterate and actually read Nanosystems before he wrote it. He does use the rod-logic nanomechanical computers, which were really only meant to be proof of concept, not anywhere near ideal, but this works stylistically because of other conceits in the novel.

It's a damn-good read, hilarious and heart-breaking.

I agree.