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I always thought nano was just a divsion of materials science.


My 18 year old, college freshman is convinced that nano tech will be important. And who am I to throw cold water on nano. I will not.

Carbon fibre-reinforced Carbon (aka carbon-carbon, abbreviated C/C) is a composite material consisting of carbon fibre reinforcement in a matrix of graphite. Applications for C/C have been made in aerospace and NASA.

Creative Destructionism calls for the rise of new technologies and industries from the ashes of an economic downturn such as now. The same is true for Kondratief theory.



Large parts of it are. But areas that were previously not impacted by materials innovation suddenly would get improved through nano-materials.

Nanomedicine and nanosensors are separate from material science.


Doesnt boom, bubble, & bust refer to economic phases? We all know the cool economic implications of the technology, but if the really cool stuff is just now leaving the lab, as your article basically states, then how have we already had a boom, bubble, and bust cycle?


I guess what I'm trying to say is, if its a technology that's just now beginning to leave the laboratory, then how has its economic model even begun?


Also, could you elaborate further on how nanotech will help end the recession in late 2009?



Boom/Bust can also be used to describe the rate of innovation in a field. It is not just for economic growth.

So far, nanotech has had negligible economic impact. It will start having an economic impact now, due to more startups being funded, and more nanotech materials leading to new products that consumers upgrade to. The nanotech component of these products will not be obvious in many cases.


GK, I read you all-too-infrequently updated blog with a lot of respect, especially after you so astutely predicted the turnaround in Iraq, well in advance.

But pray tell, how do you think the economy will begin to expand later this year? It sure seems like things are still spiraling downward, and when you look at what the U.S. government is doing, don't you think it is making any long-term prospects for a recovery (much less a robust one) less likely? My god, the government is spending so much money that there is no possible way it can pay it back without either instituting onerous and productivity killing taxes, or debauching he currency and creating runaway inflation. Choose your poison. Either way, not good for a recovery.

Or are you thinking that the rest of the world will recover before the U.S. will?



Good questions. Refer back to my Timeline for Economics. But in the shorter term :

1) Obama's socialism is what caused the market crash in October - as soon as the market knew he would win, it panicked. However, people are pushing back (including blue-dog Democrats). China is also pushing back by threatening not to buy any more US debt if the US lowers its growth rate through socialism. It is funny that 'Communist' China would be the one to save the US from socialism, but that is happening.

Note how accurately predicted what level the stock market would ultimately bottom at, back in October

2) Technological innovation is continuing (after a halt in 2008), and inventories are now thinned down. There will be many new gizmos to buy soon.

3) I did not say the recovery would be robust. It will be weak, but still a recovery in the US. The US will be lukewarm/sluggish for 2-5 years (and this is necessary in order to get Americans to manage their finances like responsible adults again). But the global economy will turn out a very strong 2010.

4) Europe and Japan will be weaker longer than the US. But China and India are still growing 5-6% in 2009, even while the developed countries contract. China (and to a smaller extent, India) have literally saved the world from a depression, by putting a floor under the price of many commodities, and consuming up excess inventory of many products.

Their role in stemming the halt must not be overlooked.


Yes, but what of the huge debt the U.S. government is racking up? You cannot ignore this when predicting future economic performance, especially over the long term.


The debt will be contained through a combination of painful high-inflation, and a fiscally hawkish government eventually getting voted in.

As a percentage of GDP, US debt is still not as high as many other OECD countries. That does not mean we should surpass them. But at this moment, it is still not dire yet.



High inflation seems inevitable, with high commodity demand and a debased dollar. This means we get high interest rates as well. Which will reduce growth.

I think there will be several failed states in the near future, most dangerously Mexico and Pakistan.

If Pakistan implodes, that may well adversely impact India's growth rate for the foreseeable future. Same with Mexico and the U.S.

Perhaps technology saves us. Widespread adoption of electric cars would reduce trade deficits in OECD countries by hundreds of billions. Coupled with widespread solar power placing downward pressure on energy prices...maybe it works out to counteract the constrictive energies. But is seems unlikely, especially with Obama at the wheel.


Short of a nuclear strike, Pakistan's implosion will reduce India's safety, but not its growth rate. A military buildup boosts growth.

I have written in detail about Pakistan here.

Thailand has grown very well in the past 30 years, despite being sandwiched between Burma, Cambodia, and Laos. Thailand itself had a coup, without economic detriment (so far).

Mexico, despite escalating violence and disorder, is no more dangerous than it was in the 1970s. We survived that.

There are actually fewer failed states now than there were in the 70s and 80s.

But Oil will not be permanently demoted in importance until it becomes super-expensive first. Cheap oil merely postpones the problem.


On another issue - when are you going to blog on Wolfram Alpha? This is easily one of the most critical developments on the path to the singularity.



I will wait until Wolfram Alpha is actually out, and I can try it out, before judging how important it will be. Remember that most people don't have the intellectual curiosity that we do, and so won't use it (just like they fail to maximize usage of Wikipedia today).

Remember that Dean Kamen's Segway was supposed to transform the world by now, as was WiMax wireless, the Human Genome Project, and George Gilder's 'Telecosm' of terabit fiber optics. All will give rise to technologies that do matter down the line, but these endeavors themselves did little, even years hence.


Another side note, GK. I find your blog interesting but can't help but be surprised that you don't address climate issues in your predictions and opinion pieces. Is there a reason for this anomaly? Or are you in the "jury's still out" climate change denier camp? Or are you simply, like myself, not well versed in the data.



I don't think man is a significant force in climate change. One major volcano eruption (like Tambora in 1815) or mid-sized asteroid/comet impact (like Tunguska in 1908) will affect the world's climate for the following 10 years far more than anything man does, or doesn't do. Man is puny compared to at least two climate-changing natural disasters than have happened in the last 200 years alone.

Therefore, the best thing the world could do to avoid sudden climate change (as well as millions of immediate deaths) is to work towards asteroid deflection/pulverization. Even that still leaves us vulnerable to volcanos.

Fretting about SUVs is petty in comparison.

I think dumping of mercury and other toxins into the oceans is a much worse man-made atrocity than releasing CO2 in the air. Pretty soon, fish like tuna, swordfish, etc. will no longer be edible for humans.

I have, however, written how the environmental movement is going to splinter politically, given that China is now a bigger polluter than the US.

tin whisker

Good post.Doesnt boom, bubble, & bust refer to economic phases? We all know the cool economic implications of the technology, but if the really cool stuff is just now leaving the lab, as your article basically states, then how have we already had a boom, bubble, and bust cycle?...


Boom, bubble, and bust apply to anything, not just economics.

The space race was in a boom from 1957 to 1973, and then was in a long bust.

Feminism is in a boom, and it will eventually bust due to a combination of forces most people have not contemplated yet. I will write about that too.

The Nano Age

Most of the REALLY exciting possible apps of nanotechnology haven't even been demonstrated in the lab, yet. I think that the best is definitely yet to come. I also see this field as an inevitability - it is going to be HUGE.


Molecular manufacturing;nanotechnology, even without any artificial intelligences, will be THE BIG BOOM creator. Think about it: REAL nanotechnology, not merely nano materials and particles, involves self-reproducing molecular machines, as well as fastened-down nanofactories that are NOT loose free-roaming nanomachines, would allow anyone to produce consumer goods in their home or abode. Even if the nanofactories were limited to things such as carbon based solids and polymers and ceramics, you would see a massive revolution in production, even without general-purpose replicators. But once you could produce the materials you could produce solar cells and you could then relatively easilly grow your own food via home greenhouses and such.

The things that would still cost money would be land for housing, human services that could not be replicated, and information. Once information is out on the net, it's freely available. And if you can also recycle the materials and scan existing items you could reproduce them to your heart's content.

Even with land, say you had a carbon fiber only replicator. Simple: Reproduce your own floating islands made from bonded nano carbon fiber and declare yourself your own country. You could even attach it to the seabed or bedrock.

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