On BioScience and Life and Such

Anyone seen a nanobot lately

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2009 at 4:19 pm

post to news.thinkgene.com

After finishing Ray Kurzweils book “The singularity is near” I had some thoughts on why his predictions on timing was probably a bit off.  One thing I didn’t mention, because I wanted to do some research on the concept first, was nanorobotics or “nanobots“. His singularity- at least for the biological part of it, is highly dependent on these. Kurzweils vision is that these nanobots will crawl around inside our blood vessels and neurons fixing everything from infections to physical damage.

And Kurzweil is not alone in his beliefs. Dr Anirban Bandyopadhyay of the International Center for Young Scientists, Tsukuba, Japan as reported this (really cool) nanobot formed by 17 identical molecules (and capable of performing a lot of computations) and says that it may be able to guide future nanobots through the body and control their functions:

“If [in the future] you want to remotely operate on a tumour you might want to send some molecular machines there,”……..”But you cannot just put them into the blood and [expect them] to go to the right place.” – quotes taken from BBC-news.

Others like Robert Freitas have similarly voiced their hopes for nanobots. But the problem is that so far there hasn’t been a single biological application for nanobots that I know of. I have been looking and looking, but have not seen a single experiment involving a nanorobotic structure doing anything inside a biological entity – much less a human body.

Of course, I may not have looked hard enough and I am by no means saying that nanobots is never to have its place in biomedicine. Who’s to say that nanobots will even look like robots:

“But even if such nano-devices were actually created some day, it would be their function that would matter, not their appearance. They’re not going to look like a robot or an other ultra-miniaturized version of machines that exist on a macroscopic scale in our everyday world”……”If you come into our lab, you’re not going to see a little micron toaster popping up nano pieces of toast.” – Neil Branda, professor of organic materials at Simon Fraser University in B.C quoted from here.

After all, nanomaterials like silver oxide nanoparticles and molecular drug delivery assemblies like liposomes have been known for a while and many, many more have future potential.

But, if the timing of singularity is dependent on robotic nanostructures in biomedical applications, then the singularity is further away than the predicted 2-4 decades.

Let’s hope it isn’t.

Image from: Microscopy-UK

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  1. […] wrote this previous post complaining that I had not seen biomedical nanobots in spite of predictions from […]

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