When will the Foresight Grand Prize be claimed?

    This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site, you are agreeing to our Cookie Policy.

    • When will the Foresight Grand Prize be claimed?

      When, I wonder, will someone be able to build and operate the arm and adder that are the devices one needs to build per http://www.foresight.org/GrandPrize.1.html ?

      It is difficult to tell if any progress has been made toward making such devices possible. The only technology I am aware of (I have not  done a good job of keeping track of these things the past few years) that I think may be the shortest route is use of wet nanotech and genome engineering to either build tools that then build the devices or that can build the devices directly.
       
    • I think these things are getting close to technically feasible today, but I don't think (in spite of the existence of the Foresight Grand Prize) anybody in a position to do it is looking at it as an important goal to pursue. A few possible obstacles occur to me off the top of my head.
      • Maybe the amount (US$250000) is just not enough to attract the requisite talent.
      • Maybe the people able to do this are busy with other things, and consider this a pointless diversion from more important goals.
      • Maybe there just hasn't been enough publicity for the Grand Prize to be well enough known.
      All these could be addressed by growing the amount every year. The money could be put into an index fund, and Foresight could solicit yearly donations from well-heeled donors (and pittances from us in the peanut gallery).

      The prize does state size limits (100 nm cube for the arm, 50 nm cube for the adder) and I haven't thought hard about whether these are close to what could be accomplished with, say, a reasonable DNA origami design. It would be good to take a few steps toward the prize by first doing some back-of-the-envelope feasibility calculations like that, and then if that looks good, starting to propose structures in broad strokes. There is an impressive-looking open source CAD package for 3D origami available.
      == Resistance is futile. Capacitance is efficacious. ==
      Resistance is futile. Capacitance is efficacious.
    • Will, I believe the answer is "all three".  Having been the FI Treasurer for a couple years, then the BOD Secretary, has provided me with a bit of insight into the problems.  Unfortunately of course, the details are privileged information that I cannot share.  However, I agree that a way should be found to increase this fund.  I will say that a couple years ago we made a change in the way this fund was managed which should help a bit, but it is far from completely addressing the issues.  For one thing, the rules and regulations governing a non-profit administrating a fund like this puts serious "hand cuffs" on what can be done.

      At one point there were in-depth discussions with the X-Prize people (Peter Diamandis et al), which if they had bared fruit would have of course addressed all three issues Will mentioned.  The upshot of this exercise was that a successful X-Prize should have a goal that meets a few basic criteria:

      1.  Easily stated / understood by a large cross-section of the public.
      2.  Be attainable within a very few years.

      In addition, it is very helpful (but not requirement) for it to have "obvious" "practical" applications / benefits.

      It was felt that the Feynman grand prize did not meet these criteria well enough to pursue it as an X-Prize in the foreseeable future.  In my opinion, there may be room for defining a prize that would better meet these criteria while still maintaining the fundamental goal of promoting MNT.  In any case, as progress is made, we will naturally get closer to meeting these criteria with time.  There may be a critical time when we are close enough, but not yet there, that reopening the X-Prize discussions will be worthwhile.

      Steve

      Steven C. Vetter

      President, Molecular Manufacturing Enterprises, Inc.

      4105 Countryview Drive

      Eagan, MN 55123

       

      SVetter@MMEI.com

      (651) 285-4299

      Steven C. Vetter

      President, Molecular Manufacturing Enterprises, Inc.

      4105 Countryview Drive

      Eagan, MN 55123

       

      SVetter@MMEI.com

      (651) 285-4299

    • On the issue of DNA origami being sufficient to claim the prize, the short answer is unfortunately "no".

      The closest I've seen to anyone potentially claiming the prize was in 2000 when James Ellenbogen presented a molecular electronics design of a half-adder*.  I immediately realized the potential.  I remember saying to Ralph Merkle right after the talk "Well, just build seven of those and half the grand prize is done!"  [A half-adder adds two one-bit numbers; seven of them is sufficient to add two 4-bit numbers; the criteria for the adder portion of the Grand Prize.]  Unfortunately, I believe they ran into various challenges of fanout, signal integrity, scale up, etc. and never quite realized the potential that appeared to be there.  Also, the intent of the grand prize is to foster development of MNT, which arguably a molecular electronics approach does not directly do.  Still, it seems to be to be a potential avenue to at least keep in mind.  If nothing else, any success of (or close to) atomically-precise, bottom-up construction could be a real boon to the overall effort.

      Steve

      *  http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/xpl/login.jsp?tp=&arnumber=838115&url=http%3A%2F%2Fieeexplore.ieee.org%2Fxpls%2Fabs_all.jsp%3Farnumber%3D838115
      (signup required to view full article)

      Steven C. Vetter

      President, Molecular Manufacturing Enterprises, Inc.

      4105 Countryview Drive

      Eagan, MN 55123

       

      SVetter@MMEI.com

      (651) 285-4299

      Steven C. Vetter

      President, Molecular Manufacturing Enterprises, Inc.

      4105 Countryview Drive

      Eagan, MN 55123

       

      SVetter@MMEI.com

      (651) 285-4299

    • (Sorry to spam).  As to the question of when the prize will be claimed, I invite you all to take the pole I just posted on this, and related questions.

      Steve

      Steven C. Vetter

      President, Molecular Manufacturing Enterprises, Inc.

      4105 Countryview Drive

      Eagan, MN 55123

       

      SVetter@MMEI.com

      (651) 285-4299

      Steven C. Vetter

      President, Molecular Manufacturing Enterprises, Inc.

      4105 Countryview Drive

      Eagan, MN 55123

       

      SVetter@MMEI.com

      (651) 285-4299