But if you look at other material possessions housing

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small percentage of the population will be able to afford it. But if you look at other material possessions housing or electronics -- you find that the only limitation is our ability to manufacture them inexpensively. So the first approximation in this future that we're looking at is that everyone will be physically well off. They will have a great abundance in material goods, and as a consequence, I think that will soften and ease some of the conflicts that we see now. One of the issues facing us today is that there are countries where there is a serious lack of resources, the standards of living are very low, and as a consequence this creates a fundamental unease and discomfort in entire populations. If you have a higher standard of living, at least that source of conflict will be greatly reduced. Now, as we all know, there are many potential sources of conflict in the world, but even easing some of them will be very helpful. UBIQUITY: Does nanotechnology apply to just about any industry, to just about any kind of manufacturing? MERKLE: If there is a manufacturing component, then pretty much it applies. I think there'll be some instances where existing bulk chemical manufacturing techniques will continue to be used because they prove to be efficient. UBIQUITY: What are the implications for the future? MERKLE: One of the things that we really have to adjust to as we start thinking about this future is that, if there is a great quantity of material goods, then the primary questions no longer are what can we make, what can we afford? The primary question shifts to, what do we want? What is it that we find valuable intrinsically rather than what is it that we can afford to make from a manufacturing sense? UBIQUITY: Give us a sense of the rate of growth in the field. MERKLE: Certainly we are having more interest. The recent announcement by President Clinton of the National Nanotechnology initiative in a speech at Cal Tech gives an indication that the interest in this area is growing. We're also seeing a wide interest on the part of private industry. We're seeing a number of companies beginning to move into this area. My own company, Zyvex, ( ) is very interested in the development of molecular manufacturing because we feel that this is going to be a major advance not only in the human condition and in manufacturing, but also a major advance that we can help create. It's still early and obviously when you have startup companies entering into a new area, some of them will be successful and some won't. But we're now seeing that process begin, which I think is a very interesting development. UBIQUITY: Is nanotechnology something that is now covered reasonably well in institutions of higher education? MERKLE: Well, certainly there are a number of nanotechnology research centers around the country. Obviously Rice University with Rick Smalley's Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology is one. Bill Goddard has a molecular simulation center down at
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CalTech. There are a number of other nanotechnology centers springing up. One of the
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