It appears Google’s Ray Kurzweil is at it again with his stunning and accurate predictions. Kurzweil is known both as director of engineering for the tech powerhouse, and a futurist. His predictions have been so far accurate, and it seems scientists and engineers have fulfilled yet another one of his predictions: molecular dexterity robots.
Kurzweil expands on this notion, adding the ideas that nanobots will begin to play an active role in humanity’s life by 2030. This begins by being injected into our bodies to keep us healthy. The first of these steps are happening right now, when engineers are slowly developing ways to make smarter robots.
The premise is simple: robots these days tend to be fragile, especially with their programming. One small move and robots can stop functioning instantly. Molecular dexterity concepts allow robots to make minute adjustments to modify their programming, so they can keep functioning. Applying this to nanomachines can help us create functioning “cells” that can create structures vital for various industries.
Of course, molecular dexterity robots weren’t the only ones that Kurzweil thinks will be arriving in the near future. If his insight is correct, then the technological singularity may very well happen in 2045. This means the time when humanity will be able to merge his consciousness with technology will be arriving sooner than we think. We will achieve true singularity when robots are now able to perform upgrades to themselves that even humans cannot think of.
Molecular Dexterity Robots
These new approaches to robotics can help provide that extra “push” that would help robots adapt and overcome situations that would otherwise impede their programming. When robots find a blind spot in their programming, they tend to stop the entire procedure entirely. However, providing robots with the ability to adjust their programming, albeit a small ability, still allows them to perform better.
For instance, gripper-based robots may interact better with the environment. This is extremely useful when it comes to existing trends in medicine, disaster response, and manufacturing as robots will now be able to handle tools with extra care.
3D Printing Industry explains that one day, molecular dexterity robots will finally be able to arrange themselves in any form possible. This is making to how cells form molecules, but only this time, it will be nanobots that will be doing the “patching.” Of course, applying the concept of molecular dexterity robots to small nanobots and nanomachines will take time. However, it is interesting to see how engineers are working towards these visions.
In fact, the usage of molecular dexterity robots into nanomachines and 3D printing is already being considered in the field of medicine. Another 3D Printing Industry article elaborates on how 3D printing nanobots can form various cells that can potentially help “heal” patients. For instance, skin tissue nanobots can be composed of molecular dexterity robots that can adjust their properties to help treat chronic skin injuries. These include a wide variety of ulcers – such as venous, diabetic, and arterial ulcers. This can be an extremely beneficial approach to medicine, given chronic skin diseases are becoming more common due to globalization, lifestyle, and diet.
However, it appears advancements in the field of molecular dexterity robotics isn’t far off from the objectives of the engineers who made them. For instance, engineers and researches at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found a way to allow robots to “predict” and analyse the force they need to exert when interacting with certain objects.
Alberto Rodriguez and Nikhil Chavan-Dafle have developed a model that apparently adjusts the way it controls objects it interacts with. So instead of dropping an object it failed to grasp, their model adjusts the force of its grip.
In terms of “patching” nanobots, scientists in New York University are beginning to make nanobots capable of becoming molecular dexterity robots themselves. This unique molecular “3D printing” procedure allows them to create particles that are 10 to 100 times tinier than cells to combine into different shapes, like LEGOs.
The New York University scientists expands the idea composed by Eric Drexler and his team. His vision involves nanotechnology being used similar to how atoms work, but instead of forming organic constructs, these nanomachines will form artificial constructs that function like the small parts inside our bodies.
In the Far Future
Robots would hopefully be able to develop a more accurate means to be molecularly dexterous. Programming would hopefully develop to such a degree that robots can accurately assess an object’s mass, shape, inertia, and other factors that would likely influence its interaction with the environment.
If Drexler’s ideas become a reality, then molecular dexterity robots will be able to get small enough to form “communities” with different functions. These self-assembling robots will be dexterous enough to make minute adjustments without compromising their programming. This is extremely useful in situations where it is crucial for them to perform, such as in medicine.
In fact, it would be extremely beneficial if engineers and scientists put more focus on using these special 3D printing and molecular dexterity principles when it comes to healthcare systems. This is because structural shortages of healthcare services can be problematic to those that need urgent attention.