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Publisher's Summary

K. Eric Drexler is the founding father of nanotechnology - the science of engineering on a molecular level. In Radical Abundance, he shows how rapid scientific progress is about to change our world. Thanks to atomically precise manufacturing, we will soon have the power to produce radically more of what people want, and at a lower cost. The result will shake the very foundations of our economy and environment.

Already, scientists have constructed prototypes for circuit boards built of millions of precisely arranged atoms. The advent of this kind of atomic precision promises to change the way we make things - cleanly, inexpensively, and on a global scale. It allows us to imagine a world where solar arrays cost no more than cardboard and aluminum foil, and laptops cost about the same.

A provocative tour of cutting edge science and its implications by the field’s founder and master, Radical Abundance offers a mind-expanding vision of a world hurtling toward an unexpected future.

©2013 K. Eric Drexler (P)2013 Gildan Media LLC

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Drexler Rehashes the Past

Would you try another book from K. Eric Drexler and/or Tim Pabon?

I would gladly listen to Tim Pabon's reading again any time, Drexler is out of the question, though.

What was most disappointing about K. Eric Drexler’s story?

Drexler spends very much of the book bemoaning and complaining about the failure and misuse by Government Bureaucracy that supposedly caused his original fostering of Nano-Technology to fail.Because the term was 'usurped' by marketing and media hype he has now restyled Nanotechnology as "Atomically Precise Manufacturing " (which is the same day-dream, with very different marketing). <br/><br/>In this book Drexler complains at length about the hype that amateur enthusiasts and the media heaped on his first vision of Nanotechnology, deriding their nightmare visions of the 'Gray Goo' problem, and the "wild" fantasies of Blood-bourne robots that were supposed to fix cancer and other health problems. Somehow he denies (and also somehow forgets) that these very ideas were discussed and promoted in his book "Engines of Creation". If I recall correctly, Chapter 2 discussed small robots that could repair our cells and "even reverse aging", perhaps even defeating old age and death. The gray goo problem of nanotech run amok was discussed extensively in "Engines" to encourage pre-emptive oversight and guidance. Drexler now blames his enthusiastic followers for these fantasies and nightmares, dissociating himself entirely from them - which is considerably disingenuous of him.<br/><br/>And finally, despite his strident attempts to make APM sound plausible and reasonable, his own repeated notes of caution, hesitation and "maybe" statements make his arguments unconvincing. <br/><br/>This seems to be just an attempt to make one last bit of money out of Nanotechnology.

What does Tim Pabon bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

While Tim Pabon has the occasional pronunciation difficulty with some technical and scientific terms, his reading is clear and consistent, and never befuddled, despite the complexity of Drexler's language and technical jargon. Excellent job.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

I was angered by Drexler's blaming his enthusiastic followers for concepts and ideas he created himself (and now denies creating). I was disappointed in the overall tone of this fairly feeble attempt to describe the same old thing a different way.

Any additional comments?

At one time I believed in the possibility of Nanotechnology or Atomically Precise Manufacturing (call it what you will), but based on this and the "where's my Jetpack" lack of development in 30 years, I will not be holding my breath during my lifetime, nor expect any Blood-bourne robots to resurrect me (which Drexler himself suggested in Engines of Creation, but now claims were over-enthusiastic fantasies by "amateurs"). Very bad.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Hugh
  • New Orleans, LA, United States
  • 06-15-13

A most difficult book for a layman

What did you like best about Radical Abundance? What did you like least?

The best part was the concept. The worst part was 28 hours of listening and never really understanding how this was going to happen. Eric Drexler proposed this theory 25 years ago in a book, and apparently it created a big stir, to the point where, in 2000 President Clinton got Congress to appropriate a big chunk of cash to research the concept, and mind you it's a concept, not anywhere near something that's a reality. Here we are another 13 years later and I just don't see anything in this book that says we're any nearer. The author seems to be saying "we can do this if only the researchers would not keep side-tracking "ATM", the core of the concept. No question the concept is provocative, but where's is the reality? Also, parts were repetitive and really wordy. For example, describing the difference between a scientist and an engineer took at least two hours of listening. I gritted my teeth and listened to it all. What I took away was that Atomically-Precise Engineering ("ATM" as it's called in the book) is a theory. It's never been done, and I didn't hear in the book that anyone, anywhere is seriously trying to do it. .

What did you like best about this story?

The concept.

What aspect of Tim Pabon’s performance would you have changed?

The problem is not the narrator. It's understanding the book.

Did Radical Abundance inspire you to do anything?

Yes, I'll be on the lookout for more on this subject.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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I was rekindled.

What is the practice of manifesting "machines to build machines"? What methods are readily available to achieve this? Someone please tell me so we can do greatness together.

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Grounded and Clarifying.

A successful effort from the conceptual founder of a field worthy of public attention, as it states where we were, where we are, and what there is still left to be done. 'The challenges remaining are primarily conceptual and institutional'.

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very interesting but VERY repetitive

I like the book very much, it is much too repetitive. I do not need to have the same thing started to me in ten different ways. Still worth listening to though.

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Not impressed

As a book this was a so-so experience from the father of nanotechnology. I did not feel like I've learned much new information from it. the tone of the book is very dry which isn't really a problem if the content had been more interesting.

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A little to focused on himself

Pie in the sky, self absorbed, wishful thinking. I Didn't learn anything new. Caught myself losing focus and the book becoming just background noise. I tried skipping back to listen again just to have the same thing happen.

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Reads like a PhD dissertation

I will summarize the first nine chapters:

Scientists and engineers are similar but different. I will use the next 24 point illustrate the differences:
1...
24...

If you are looking for a book about abundant product of the near future, this is not it. If you are looking for a book about radical new technology that will change the world, this is not it. If you want to spend 13 hours listening to the difference between the word nano, and the word atomic, then by all means dive right in this is your book.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • Westport, WA, United States
  • 04-30-13

Eric Drexler Knows one out of the park

What made the experience of listening to Radical Abundance the most enjoyable?

Eric Drexler has been thinking about this stuff for so long, that his intuitive understanding out strips anyone in the field. This is the iphone of sciences books, this is a carefully constructed masterpieces.His, metaphors and analogies are spot on with the careful consideration, of a master craftsman. This is the book worth waiting 27 years for. The maturity of his writing style from his first book Engines of creation really shows, in a really good way. There is no magic hand waving hear, and no bar graphics to consider just an intuitive exercise.

What other book might you compare Radical Abundance to and why?

This is one of the major engines in Ray Kurzweil's the Singularity is Near, this explains in detail what ray Kurzweil is talking about when he talks about nanotechnology. Eric and ray had a falling out somewhere along the line, probably because Erics a more concrete thinker, I am saying this because Eric was supposed to be in Rays documentary but was not. So it interesting to keep that in mind. Regardless the Singularity is near is a good comparison contracting work, and Rays lack of description was likely due to the fact that it really was Eric's job to do it right. And that he does.

Which scene was your favorite?

Playing with Atoms.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I felt like I was playing with a really cool lego set.

Any additional comments?

This is what the end of analog looks like

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Interesting perspective into nanotechnology

A good read. Very thought provoking. If we can control and manage assemblies at the atomic level the future will get very interesting quick!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful