April 21, 2013
(Edited From Wikipedia)
A nanofactory is a proposed system in which nanomachines (resembling molecular assemblers, or industrial robot arms) would combine reactive molecules via mechanosynthesis to build larger atomically precise parts. These, in turn, would be
assembled by positioning mechanisms of assorted sizes to build macroscopic (visible) but still atomically-precise products.
No one has discovered an insurmountable problem with the underlying theories and no one has proved that the theories can be translated into practice. However, the debate continues.
If nanofactories could be built, severe disruption to the world economy would be one of many possible negative impacts, though it could be argued that this disruption would have little negative effect if everyone had such nanofactories. Great benefits also would be anticipated.
One potential scenario that has been envisioned is out-of-control self-replicating molecular assemblers in the form of “grey goo”, which consumes carbon to continue its replication. If unchecked, such mechanical replication could potentially consume whole ecoregions or the whole Earth (ecophagy), or it could simply outcompete natural lifeforms for necessary resources such as carbon, ATP, or UV light (which some nanomotor examples run on).
It is worth noting that the ecophagy and ‘grey goo’ scenarios, like synthetic molecular assemblers, are based upon still-theoretical technologies that have not yet been demonstrated experimentally [allegedly…]