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Utility Fog

Published on Apr 02, 2024


Nanofog is a highly advanced nanotechnology, which the Technocratic Union has developed as the ultimate multi-purpose tool. It is a user-friendly, completely programmable collection of avogadro (6 x1023) numbers of nanomachines that can form a vast range of machinery, from wristwatches to spaceships.

It can simulate any material from gas, liquid, and solid, and it can even be used in sufficient quantities to implement the ultimate in virtual reality. ITx researchers suggest that more complex applications could include uploading human minds into planet-sized collections of Utility Fog.

Active, polymorphic material, Utility Fog can be designed as a conglomeration of 100-micron robotic cells called foglets. Such robots could be built with the techniques of molecular nanotechnology. Controllers with processing capabilities of 1000 MIPS per cubic micron, and electric motors with power densities of one milliwatt per cubic micron are assumed. Utility Fog should be capable of simulating most everyday materials, dynamically changing its form and proper ties, and forms a substrate for an integrated virtual reality and telerobotics. This paper will examine the concept, and explore some of the applications of this material.


Imagine a microscopic robot. It has a body about the size of a human cell and 12 arms sticking out in all directions. A bucketful of such robots might form a "robot crystal" by linking their arms up into a lattice structure. Now take a room, with people, furniture, and other objects in it it's still mostly empty air. Fill the air completely full of robots. With the right programming, the robots can exert any force in any direction on the surface of any object.

They can support the object, so that it apparently floats in the air. They can support a person, applying the same pressures to the seat of the pants that a chair would. They can exert the same resisting forces that elbows and fingertips would receive from the arms and back of the chair. A program running in the Utility Fog can thus simulate the physical existence of an object.

Although this class of nanotechnology has been envisioned by the technocracy since early times, and has been available to us for over twenty years, the name is more recent. A mundane scientist, J. Storrs Hall provided an important baseline examination of the issues involved in the application and design of Utility fog. He envisioned it as an active polymorphic material designed as a conglomeration of 100-micron robotic cells or foglets, built using molecular nanotechnology.

An appropriate mass of Utility Fog could be programmed to simulate, to the same precision as measured by human senses, most of the physical properties, such as hardness, temperature, light, of any macroscopic object, including expected objects such as tables and fans, but also materials such as air and water.

The major exceptions would be taste, smell, and transparency. To users, it would seem like the Star Trek Holodeck except that it would use atoms instead of holographic illusions. It is an indication of the degree to which our science and technology have permeated society that a non member could so accurately describe and visualise the way in which "Utility Fog" operates.

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