Eric Drexler just pinged me to point out that what I usually refer to as “Drexlerians” do not speak for him. It reminds me of the scene in the Life of Brian where trying to dissuade his growing band of disciples from following him, Brian shouts “You don’t need to follow me. You don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves. You’re all individuals!”
In a similar fashion, Drexlers work on nanosystems was simply a treatise on what could be possible, possibly, not a manual detailing how to build Utopia, atom by atom. While many scientists I know have been inspired by this to pursue real and feasible nanotechnologies, a small minority didn’t feel any need to pop into a lab and do any science, and have spent the last twenty years sitting on their backsides watching Star Trek while deifying Drexler. As I have said many times, science just doesn’t happen because a bunch of people go on and on and on about it, it actually involves some work, and shouting down anyone who disagrees with you certainly wasn’t part of my scientific training, and doesn’t do much good in the business world either.
Still, it could be worse, as Will Self’s satirical Book of Dave pointed out a couple of years ago. Let’s just hope no one has printed a copy of Nanosystems on diamond!