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Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  819 ratings  ·  57 reviews
This brilliant work heralds the new age of nanotechnology, which will give us thorough and inexpensive control of the structure of matter.  Drexler examines the enormous implications of these developments for medicine, the economy, and the environment, and makes astounding yet well-founded projections for the future.
Paperback, 299 pages
Published September 16th 1987 by Anchor (first published 1986)
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Mario the lone bookwolf
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 0-technology
Be it space lift, nanobots or quantum computers. Nanotechnology makes it all possible.

Please note that I put the original German text at the end of this review. Just if you might be interested.

Imagine, billions of small machines are floating in your blood. Once an organ has a minor malfunction, they are on hand to fix the problem. If an aging process starts, it is reversed by the diligent helpers. If you accidentally cut your finger, the wound closes after seconds and heals in hours. To accelera
Nick Wellings
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Beautifully bonkers, Drexler's optimistic, visionary tract seems absurdly far fetched nowadays. But, that is most likely because the end result - tiny self replicating machines, structures made of pure diamond, cheap energy and creation, bootstrapping and plenitude, luxury and material wealth for all - would be a kind of utopia.

Nevertheless, given some hundreds of years, it may well happen that a world like his will emerge, nanotechnology or no. Certainly, we seem to be approaching limits ever
May 15, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting early look at nanotech.

Bottom line summary: Nanotechnology is coming. It will either save us or destroy us.

Research for WIP
Jan 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
Engines of Creations is a really exciting book about the possibility of a fantastic future. While nanotechnology is the main part of the book, Drexler talks about Artificial Intelligence (AI), colonisation of space, information management, and an extended almost immortal life. He doesn’t just talk about these things but predicts how these technologies will develop, how we will use them and the social implications.

The book can be very technical at times as the author begins by explaining how DNA
Jan 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science students, techies, alarmists
Recommended to Bill by: A techie friend
I read this volume 20 years ago. I am still haunted by all its implications. Nanotechnology was still largely theoretical when I first read the book and I was somewhat incredulous over some of the caveats proferred by Dr. Drexler. The author gives us an amazing overview of the possibilities in nanotech: Imagine "growing a jet engine from a brew of tiny robots in solution. As you watch, the brew quickly morphs into a solid piece of complicated equipment. I was reminded of Arthur C Clarke's 3rd la ...more
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book lies somewhere between science fiction and non-fiction.

It is quite intriguing though, how nanotechnology, with its root in bio-tech, can ideally make what we've seen on Star Trek: The Next Generation become a reality. Drexler goes in to depth on explaining the great potential in nano tech, backing his predictions up with numerous pages of notes and references.

The part at the end with the text about Hyperspeech, was admittedly amusing given our age now with the internet, and I also sh
Ned Hanlon
Jun 16, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a delightfully ambitious and optimistic view, laying forth a vision of the future and casually brushing a side any existential (if not apocolyptic!) threats striving for the future may have. It is actually a very similar book to Ray Kurzweill's The Singularity is Near . Kurzweil just adds more ego and pictures (which are both lots of fun!) but the content and conclusions are near identical. Of the two I think I would suggest the Kurzweil, primarily because it was written more recently a ...more
Scott Spencer
Jul 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hard to believe that this book is so old, but the predictions are dead on in terms of AI, nanotech, and the internet. I don't agree that assemblers will be something that can be caged and regulated as the author claims.
Technology has changed since this book was written, but the concepts of how his technology will impact our society are timeless.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I was wild about this book when I read it, but my current understanding is that it has been demonstrated to be false, the technology the book predicts violates quantum mechanics, or so I have read. That said, the three star rating is some kind of average between my original and current thoughts about the book.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
While most of changes he predicted still aren't even close(suggesting one could really guess when revolution's around the corner), most of topics provide and interesting take on what nanobots can accomplish. ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it
The chapter of hypertext seems too optimistic by nowadays, but nanotechnology is exciting anyway.
Aman Kumar
Jul 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: want-to-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very hopeful book. Reminded me of the 1960's when we expected technology would solve all future woes. Luckily, he threw in that prediction about ... (I won't spoil it for you) ...more
I want a book like this for every subject I am interested in.
Nov 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Dec 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Read it as an ebook
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Very thorough, some progressive content considering when it was written and fairly accessible for someone who is not at all from a technical background
John Grange
Mar 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Despite K. Eric Drexler writing this book all the way back in the mid 1980's, his work is still futurism's magnum opus. Somehow, the author very cleverly captured the essence of distant technology and made it feel so attainable and rational. His writing seeps with optimism, which can undermine credibility, but in this instance, that optimism has a wonderful charm.

Reading a book like this in 2016 is extra fascinating because it was written almost 30 years ago and made some bold predictions about
Bradley King-Spooner
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I require an exclamation. Give me a second...
Jesus? Nope, too many connotations. Gods? Bah, presumptuous. Stars above? Getting there. Moral saints? Too mundane. ...Screw it, I'm making a new one: Creation.
As Drexler points out at the end of this book, his aim is not to promote nanotechnology, but to "promote understanding of nanotechnology and its consequences". This was relayed exceptionally well, to me at least (other readers seem to have misunderstood), as he analyses, elaborates upon, and ul
Jan 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is the masterpiece of physics ideas that:
1) Brought the idea of the Singularity into its modern context
2) Built on Richard Feynman's Essay "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom"
3) Brought a top-level hierarchy view of the ultimate possibilities of miniaturization to top-hierarchy-level thinkers like Ray Kurzweil and Marving Minsky.
4) Showed that things can get a lot worse than Stalinism, Hitlerism, etc. Such tyranny could be eternal, and could be in your own mind, without even the ability t
Oct 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
An introduction to one of the most brilliant, creative and exciting ideas that mankind has ever had. Really. This book offers a non-technical description of the next technological revolution.

Feynman was the first to introduce the idea, but it was Drexler that really ran with it. Drexler is the recognized father of nanotechnology, and humanity doesn't yet realize how much they owe him. Drexler's PhD on nanotechnology (MIT, 1991) was the first ever awarded on the topic for the simple reason that n
Marco Santini
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an epoch making book, no doubt, with a strong inspirational content.

“There's plenty of room at the bottom” said Richard Feynman in 1959. Almost 30 years later Eric Drexler wrote this book about molecular nanotechnology with a foreword by the AI scientist Marvin Minsky. The futurist Ray Kurzweil, in his 2005 book “The Singularity is Near”, strongly supported Drexler’s ideas. Two years later, in 2007, Drexler himself published “Engines of Creation 2.0”, as a free ebook.

How can the whole Li
Scott Lerch
Feb 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure why I didn't originally write a review when I first read this, but I still think this is a great visionary work. The molecular nano machines Drexler imagined are getting closer everyday. Back when he wrote this people scoffed at the idea we could do anything described in the book, but in the past decade nano technologies are everywhere in materials, computers, and biology. Sure, we still don't have the general purpose nano assemblers that create anything we want for pennies that are ...more
Apr 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sciences
This first book on nanotechnology (Doubleday 1986) introduces the subject from a more abstract
and long-term perspective. Topics covered include nanotechnology's relationship to scientific
knowledge, the evolution of ideas, artificial intelligence, human life span, limits to growth, healing the
environment, prevention of technological abuse, space development, and the need for new social
technologies-such as hypertext publishing and fact forums-to help us deal with rapid technological
Jun 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The book that initiated the discussion of what may be the single most important technology of the 21st century. Drexler's careful and yet provocative analysis combined with clear and accessible writing launched nanotechnology into the public consciousness. I first read this book in the late 80's when the ideas were still little known. _Engines_ had me walking around in a daze; literally bumping into walls from the intoxication of the ideas. 25 years after it's first publication anyone familiar w ...more
Hieu Cao
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is really thought-provoking. It raises the question of how we should 'foresight' the future. Drexler points out that our perceptions of technology are inert. If we don't transform our institutions, culture, and perceptions to be in pace with the development of technology, technology may spin out of our control. In the book, Drexler uses nanotechnology to illustrate possibilities and dangers of technological development. His vision about assemblers and replicators may be far-fetched but ...more
Michael Lancashire
Mar 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
I read this book when I was about 16. I remember being inspired and convinced that we were, please pardon the cliche, "only ten years" away from the brave future Eric Drexler described.

Well, as will be apparent to anybody reading this around the time I write it, like most confident science prophecies it appears we're still ten years away. But I'm nonetheless excited for that!

And the beauty of nanotech having not delivered on its promises quite as quickly as we might have hoped is that this book
Adrian Herbez
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
great overview of the promise and perils of nanotech. slightly dated now, as nanotech has entered into the public eye, but this gets credit for first bringing it to public attention.

Just finished reading this, upping the rating. Talks about numerous other amazing yet plausible future developments. His discussion of the promise of hypertext is especially interesting, as he pretty much gets it right, though he presents it as a distant goal.
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I first learned about Nanotechnology in the 90's from a BBC docmentory- It blew my mind, so I started reading everything I could find about it. Engines of Creation was the first book I read about nanotechnology and it remains my favorite. I love when books lead you on a path to other books and other authors. This was the book that really opened my eyes to science and I have been a closet science geek ever since. ...more
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: technology lovers
I loved this book, all the advanced technology that could await us in the future, almost a utopia like existance. All our fantasies come true , particle manipulators, real life virtual reality incorporating all 5 senses and many more cool scenarious, excitingly explained by eric drexler.

Loved the book and wish there were more like it.
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K. Eric Drexler, Ph.D., is a researcher and author whose work focuses on advanced nanotechnologies and directions for current research. His 1981 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences established fundamental principles of molecular design, protein engineering, and productive nanosystems. Drexler’s research in this field has been the basis for numerous journal articles and for ...more

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