Funding a MNT Feasibility Study

A new trend s emerging in British science, placing bets on the likelihood of discoveries.

The book on the detection of gravity waves has now been closed, with odd being slashed from an initial 500/1 to 2/1. Other bets available to scientific punters (developed in association with New Scientist in case you were wondering what the average bookie knows about Higgs bosons) are:

Possibility of life on Titan – 10,000/1

Building a fusion power plant – 50/1

Finding the Higgs boson – 6/1

Understanding cosmic rays – 4/1

It would be nice to see a few nanotech related bets available. A demonstration of Drexlerian molecular manufacturing within five years would perhaps attract some long odds but would provide a significant windfall for CRN, the Foresight Institute and other MNT fans and allows a mechanism for molecular manufacturing to be both stimulated and funded, rather than endlessly debated.

Given that a contribution to the nanotech X Prize costs $25,000, a similar amount invested at 500/1 should generate in excess of $12 million. If Foresight could find 100 people willing to bet $25,000 (although this would significantly shorten the odds) the resulting pay out should be more than enough to fund any necessary research, and significantky more than the $10 million X Prize pay out.

The only catch would be finding someone wiling to underwrite the cost of the feasibility project until the payout, say a million or two?

Small change for many a silicon valley entrepreneur we would have thought.

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Comments 2

  1. Michael Anissimov

    This is a wonderful idea! It’s worth noting, however, that by the time you have demonstrated the feasibility of Drexlerian manufacturing to a level satisfactory to critics, the race is already over. Chris Phoenix of CRN has argued at length why the duration of time between the development of a basic assembler and productive nanofactories will be measured in months. When you’ve developed an assembler, you really don’t need money anymore (unless we’re talking in the hundreds of millions, perhaps). If Investor X is putting down money to create an assembler, then the assembler itself would be the reward, not some unimpressive $12 million payout. Unless there is a such thing as an investor who recognizes the importance of nanotechnology enough to put down $1 million for a development project but is too clueless to realize that once you’ve demonstrated the feasibility of an assembler you’ve already crossed the finish line. It could happen, I guess. Unfortunately however, developing an assembler is likely to cost more than $1M, don’t you think?

  2. Tim Harper

    The idea was only partly tongue in cheek, and as I recall, Investor X was Zyvex and althoughthat didn’t work out, it did lead to a few other interesting ideas.

    However anyhthing that results in some actual work being done rather than endless debate has to be a positive move.

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