So quo vadis (where are we going)? Based on where we are and what is being proposed as the future of nanotechnology, I believe we should
revisit the initial impetus for the development of nanotechnology. Not the nanotechnology that complains about "thick fingers"
but the nanotechnology that sees the extraordinary potential in the "Engines of Creation." We should aim for the nanotechnology
that cures disease not by administering small, smart drug-delivery systems but by fixing molecular abnormalities permanently.
We should shoot for the nanotechnology that uses "nanobots" in such a way that disease or disability cease to exist. I know
this is a lofty goal, but I believe it is one we should pursue because throughout history, all new, radical technologies have
brought about initial fear and trepidation, but eventually these fears were overcome.
Just how can we change the mindset of those controlling the direction of nanotechnology? We might take solice in a famous
passage by the great physicist Max Planck: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making
them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
Perhaps a new generation of scientists who grew up with nanobots, nanoids, and nanites as part of their vocabulary, the books
they read, the games they played, and the movies and TV shows they saw will not be afraid to explore the incredible possibility
of fixing abnormalities in the molecular machinery of life using functional systems engineered at the molecular scale.
Melgardt M. de Villiers, PhD, is an associate professor at the Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison School of Pharmacy, 777 Highland Avenue, Madison, WI 53705-2222,
tel. 608. 890.0732