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Contemporary Moral Problems of Nanotechnologies - Essay Example

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1. Explain how Kurzweill's recasting of Moore's law in and through the notion of “singularity” brings forth the revolutionary nature of nanotechnology. Moore's law, which predicts the exponential growth of computer power every 24 months, has been used by Kurzweil to explain nanotechnologies' own potential…
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Contemporary Moral Problems of Nanotechnologies
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Explain how Kurzweill's recasting of Moore's law in and through the notion of “singularity” brings forth the revolutionary nature of na chnology. Moore's law, which predicts the exponential growth of computer power every 24 months, has been used by Kurzweil to explain nanotechnologies' own potential. His interpretation of the law was demonstrated in his own Law of Accelerating Returns. One of his important claims in this principle is that "a specific paradigm provides exponential growth until the method exhausts its potential," and that, "when this happens, a paradigm shift (i.e., a fundamental change in approach) occurs, which enables exponential growth to continue (Kurzweil 2001). In keeping with Moore's Law, this model supports the idea that technology progress at a speed that goes beyond our perception or faster than we intuitively realize. This formed part of Kurzweil’s concept of Singularity wherein man and machine cooperate and combine together to form part a greater human intelligence propelled by the rapid technological progress. The concept of nanotechnology provides an effective paradigm that perpetuates the law. The technology "assembles structures from the ground up, molecule by molecule, or atom by atom" eliminating many challenges in the process that limits or exhausts a particular paradigm as cited previously (Alhoff, Lin and Moore 2010, 65) The implication of this is significant. Nanotechnology claims self-perpetuating characteristics such as self-assembly, independence from external control and manipulation and materials that far exceed most of its counterparts. In addition, nanotechnologies can also reject old law’s accelerating price-performance growth variable. As computing chips, for instance, get smaller and smaller, computing speed would come at lower cost. By using and recasting Moore’s Law, Kurzweil was able to demonstrate how nanotechnology will revolutionize not just computing but many other aspects of our lives such as medicine. According to Freitas, in this early stages “nanotechnology-based biomedical systems may be used to help resolve many difficult scientific questions,” and establish, in the future, nanomedicine that would eventually be consists of control, construction, repair, defense, and improvement of all human biological system (Alhoff, Lin and Moore, 66). Moore’s law provided a specific period of exponential growth. Kurzweill’s own law shattered the record of such growth by underscoring how nanotechnologies eclipse the current computing power. The principle at work, however, is the same. There is an exponential growth happening and that it transpires at an unexpected speed at a lesser cost. 2. Discuss how Schrodinger’s cat and Einstein’s claim that “God does not play dice” exemplify the challenges that face nanoscience. Nanoscience is a relatively new discipline. It has only recently emerged owing to the ideas of some scientists in the previous century and the invention of advanced tools such as the carbon nanotubes and the discovery of the quantum dots, among others. What this means is that much of the benefits and technologies that are conceived to be revolutionary and groundbreaking still remain in the realm of expectations and potentialities. This is the gist of the argument using Schrodinger’s cat and Einstein’s claim that “God does not play dice” with regards to nanoscience and nanotechnologies. Schrodinger’s cat was a reference to a famous experiment in 1935. Here, a cat was placed in a sealed steel chamber along with a tiny radioactive material that is so small that one of its atoms could decay within an hour. In such event, through a Geiger counter - a trigger would be set that would then release a hammer that would break a poison flask, killing the animal (Alhoff, Lin and Moore, 31). The question posed is whether the cat lives or dies because an atom can decay or not decay. This is analogous to the circumstance of nanoscience because we are left with no knowledge about what is happening because, as with the cat, the information and knowledge about the field are still sealed within the “chamber” so to speak. Since the probabilities, as with the cat’s case of either being dead or alive, are uncertain – the fact that the cat may be alive or dead exists simultaneously for us as mere probabilities. This is the point raised by Einstein in his own doubts about quantum mechanics. Such probability prompted the scientist to declare: “an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the ‘old one’” (Alhoff, Lin and Moore, 31-32). When Einstein quipped that God does not play dice, he is impressing on us that one should not merely leave everything to chance. Nanoscience will not be anything but pure field of probabilities if it does not demonstrate solid and quantified evidences that would prove its claims and potentials as truth. According to Schroeder, a “blurred model” cannot represent reality (31-32). Works Cited Allhoff, Fritz, Lin, Patrick and Moore, Daniel. What is nanotechnology and why does it matter?: from science to ethics. Chichester: John Wiley and Sons, 2010. Kurzweil, Ray. "The Law of Accelerating Returns," KurzweilAI. March 7, 2001. Web. 2 June 2011. Read More
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