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Like most things in nanotech assemblers are a big topic Is an assembler even possible What do we need to do to develop them Who is working on them When will we have them And what will we be able to do with them Thats too many questions for one essay Ill focus on the technology required to build one and by extension the schedule we might see The point of this essay as the title implies is that its impossible to give a sensible timeline for the development of an assembler There are too many factors that could cause delays--and many of the factors have nothing to do with technology But weather will happen and technology will advance First I should say what an assembler is As commonly used in nanotech an assembler is a programmable manufacturing system factory that builds products including copies of itself with every atom or molecule placed according to plan A factory that can duplicate itself would be an incredibly significant invention--an Industrial Revolution in a box Although some well-established scientists and publications have asserted that such a thing is impossible their arguments are not substantive and have been answered extensively elsewhere for example here so I will not waste time debating them In the remainder of this essay I will take it for granted that the question is not whether an assembler is possible but when it will happen When will we have the first assembler The timeline for an assembler depends a lot more on politics than it does on technology If the wrong people are convinced that assemblers are impossible the necessary RD could be delayed by years or even decades If no one tries to build it it wont get built until it is relatively trivial to do Thirty years from now if no one has done it yet an assembler might make a good PhD thesis But if a large government pours
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