In fairness to all, nanotechnology is in early days. We are seeing a lot of exciting proof of principal type work.
We can make some predictions.
We need an engineering template idea similar to the integrated circuit to organize and use this knowledge. Otherwise we will be studying thousands of noncompatible dead ends. Right now we do not know if this is possible. This template system is likely to be three dimensional.
Our capabilities will swiftly surpass anything imagined by Mother Nature. This is important because Mother Nature has actually built out with a lot of constraints that is could not work around easily. We actually have the option of introducing exotic combinations that super perform.
In short, expect to be surprised and surprised and surprised.
This NRC report is attempting to establish a focus and support system within the community to ease the process. I think that we still need much more data and conferences to settle directions. Again this is early days and this process has likely decades to develop. Right now we want to avoid closing off any avenues.
The NRC study and its recommendations
The most credible study of molecular manufacturing to date
…The technical arguments make use of accepted scientific knowledge but constitute a “theoretical analysis demonstrating the possibility of a class of as-yet unrealizable devices.”22
Construction of extended structures with three-dimensional covalent bonding may be easy to conceive and might be readily accomplished, but only by using tools that do not yet exist.25 In other words, the tool structures and other components cannot yet be built, but they can be computationally modeled.
[ ... concluding paragraph:]
Although theoretical calculations can be made today, the eventually attainable range of chemical reaction cycles, error rates, speed of operation, and thermodynamic efficiencies of such bottom-up manufacturing systems cannot be reliably predicted at this time. Thus, the eventually attainable perfection and complexity of manufactured products, while they can be calculated in theory, cannot be predicted with confidence. Finally, the optimum research paths [to advanced systems] cannot be reliably predicted at this time. Research funding that is based on the ability of investigators to produce experimental demonstrations that link to abstract models and guide long-term vision is most appropriate to achieve this goal.
25. M. Rieth and