If there is any constant, it is that technology will keep finding bigger ideas and materialising them in the smallest, most compact way possible; the aim is to aggregate as much information as possible, however, not having to carry around a backpacks full of books. We want everything smaller but bigger at the same time and it is nanotechnology that allows us to accumulate such wealth in information.
Nanotechnology demonstrates a form of engineering that occurs at an atomic and molecular level. In order to create a singular whole, nanotechnology attempts to build upwards from the tiniest, most basic particle. Because we’re building on a such a small scale, we are able to create plants the size of an eyelash or robots that extend a few nanometres wide.
Take carbon nanotubes, for instance. These are sheets of carbon atoms that can be joined together in uncountable ways in order to create whichever shape or form possible. Because the entities that form these structures are extremely small, considering that they are indeed carbon atoms, the bonds that they form are the strongest, thereby allowing for an extensive amount of information to be stored in an extremely small space.
The possibilities for nanotechnological innovation are both endless and exciting; the ability to make robots small enough to enter the human body and perform repairs and the invention nano-generators that will be able to aggregate immense amounts of energy that cannot be matched by the now-waning battery are just two impressive examples. However, because of this possibility for endless possibilities that nanotechnology offeres, the narrowing of our own individual interests and desires becomes problematic.
As Danah Boyd notes, democratisation of information does not follow from the opening up of the information floodgates. If nanotechnology allows for the aggregation of immense amounts of information, this does not mean that the distribution of such information will be equal. If aggregation becomes the primary concern, will this, in turn, create a society of selfish consumers?
We can also question our own presence within the utilisation of such technology. Danah Boyd notes that while aggregation is accessible in infinite forms, over-stimulation could be, in turn, narrowing our attention or directing our attention to that which may not be “the best” for it. If nanotechnology creates an archive of infinite amounts of information, thus, making the technology the primary aggregator and archiver, is this alienating the human being from the process?
It signifies the great doom where man is replaced by machine and calls desperately for the authoritative regulation of nano-aggregation. If we’re unable to engage ourselves with the process of aggregation, we are merely, as Boyd states, “[living] in our own worlds… and with networked media, it’s often hard to see beyond that.”
If we become too immersed with the possibility of accumulation and wealth of information, we may, consequently, become too reliant on technological abilities that overpower our own. Just as we cue for the latest apple product to hit the shelves, we’ll be cueing for an electronic brain that will see our own, biological one outdated and useless in an age of super intelligence.