This chapter considers the “existential crisis” faced by nanotechnology. A few years after nanotechnology blossomed into a global research initiative that consumed billions of government and corporate dollars, questions began to emerge over about what nanotechnology was and who was a nanotechnologist. Fundamentally, nanotechnology's own history was the catalyst for its existential angst. Vastly different interpretations of nanotechnology, both as a research program and as a vision for the future, emerged between Drexler's early publications and the launching of a major national initiative in the United States two decades later. To complicate things further, just as enthusiasts co-opted Gerard O'Neill's ideas, Drexler's visioneering took on a life of its own.
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