Well, want to try 'nano'? Over at Responsible Nanotechnology, Mike Treder says Russia is pouring more than a billion dollars into nanotech research over the next three years:
But what exactly will they spend the money on? Will any of it be used to study mechanosynthesis, with the goal of achieving molecularly-precise exponential manufacturing? There's no clear indication that it will be, and most sources seem to think that's unlikely, at least in the first few years. The vast majority of funding probably will be devoted to earlier generation nanotech.Mike also points out some ominous statements from Putin as to the military objectives this research could support. As he says, it looks more like they are developing weaponized nanotech than a manufacturing technology.
We should point out, however, that some interesting work apparently has been done in Russia on producing "a roadmap to automated diamond mechanosynthesis." We haven't learned yet how well-funded or well-connected (or even well-qualified) the researchers on that project are, so we can't say for sure whether their work will be supported by this new government initiative.
Moreover, it is clear the Chinese have already launched their own nanotech program although it is unclear how much progress they are making, since their nanotech scientists are publishing far less than the average. (An indication of lack of progress? Or an indication of secret progress?)
The question this raises for me (being as jaded about government as I am) is this: Could the US military already have their own deep cover Manhattan Project style weaponized nanotech research in place? One with black budgets, secret labs, and everything? And if not, why not? It seems like exactly the kind of thing our current leaders could get behind. (It is so easy to imagine them snickering about turning bin-Laden into 'grey goo'.)
Yeah, it would be so much better if we had a nanotech Apollo Project going. A project with public oversight and positive aims. But this is the real world, one where the most likely scenarios all include the possibility of a nanowar of one kind or another.
I'm thinking Black Nano research is already underway. I'm thinking at least two governments in the world probably have some form of weaponized nanotechnology right now. (No, not 'grey goo' disassemblers. More likely something based on extremely fine dust which can immobilize machinery and/or kill people. Almost certainly they have some form of smart dust now. Possibly they have advanced bioweapons based on nanomaterials.)
I'm thinking it is time to start being afraid. Very afraid...