Mike Treder: Behind the economic and military power envisioned by Hanson and Gubrud is the force of emerging technologies. Some call it the next industrial revolution, and this seems like a reasonable comparison.
However, the big difference between previous industrial revolutions and the nanotechnology revolution stems from the scale of time. Steam trains, electricity, the car, telecommunications, computers…: all these inventions brought great transformations to society, but they did so over decades. But when the time comes for molecular manufacturing, probably before 2020, a wave of transformation could sweep across the world in a matter of a single year or two. Never in all of history have so many impacts occurred that potentially upset society to such an extent in such a short time.
Source: Future Brief, A Global Surge Protector?