Nanotechnology promises an end to scarcity. In a radio 4 podcast James Burke considers whether these new technologies promise an end to scarcity. You may have to register to hear the talk.

Burke describes a ‘nano-fabricator’ a device that could allow us to assemble anything – a bit like the replicator in ‘Star Trek’. But this is real life – Professor David Leigh has made the world’s first nano-robot, a tiny arm that can assemble the molecules you programme into it. Similarly MIT’s Centre for Bits and Atoms are trying to replicate Star Trek’s ‘replicator’ and are working on materials and methods to make our physical world as programmable as our digital one.

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Story Idea

How will such technologies impact our lives? Once there is no scarcity will we need money any more (see also While the series ‘Black Mirror’ puts a scary spin on how such technologies could impact our lives, we’d like you to take a more positive view. What would be the most desirable way for such technologies to be integrated into human society that increases well-being overall and how might that affect other institutions? There would be little point in shops for example if we can just make anything we need at home with our replicator. Many jobs and professions would be redundant so what would we do with our time?