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Genesis ReduxEssays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life$
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Jessica Riskin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226720807

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226720838.001.0001

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Nanobots and Nanotubes: Two Alternative Biomimetic Paradigms of Nanotechnology

Nanobots and Nanotubes: Two Alternative Biomimetic Paradigms of Nanotechnology

(p.221) 11 Nanobots and Nanotubes: Two Alternative Biomimetic Paradigms of Nanotechnology
Genesis Redux

Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent

University of Chicago Press

This chapter argues that materials scientists working in the hot, new area of nanotechnology exhibit an approach to the project of artificial life that contrasts sharply with the traditional approach of computer scientists. Nanotechnology is being publicized with revolutionary claims of “shaping the world atom by atom.” Biomimetics is the cement that holds together various groups exploring the potentials of the nanoscale. The chapter then uses the popular works of Eric Drexler and Ray Kurzweil to demonstrate the mechanistic approach, and the writings of Richard Smalley and a few other chemists to represent the organicist model. The propagandists of nanotechnology have both near-term and long-term expectations for their research. The design of nanomaterials appears to rely on a specific, underlying view of matter that revives a number of antimechanistic notions such as emergence; spontaneity, or dunamis; and, above all, complexity.

Keywords:   nanotechnology, artificial life, biomimetics, Eric Drexler, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Smalley, nanomaterials

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