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Chapter 4.The Nano/Bio Interface > 4.1The "Physical" Nano/Bio Interface - Pg. 55

4.1 The "Physical" Nano/Bio Interface 55 a fully autonomous device, appraising its surroundings, processing the information internally and carrying out appropriate tasks accordingly, Hibbs presumed that infor- mation about its surroundings would be transmitted to a human surgeon, who upon analyzing the data would then direct the repair work, much in the way that cer- tain operations are already carried out today by remotely controlling tools fitted to the end of an endoscope, for example. In this case, the requisite nano/bio inter- face will be the same as the man­machine interface made familiar through digital information processing technology: the man­machine interface has been a preoc- cupation of computer scientists ever since the inception of information technology (IT). At present, the issue scarcely arises for nanotechnology, since we do not yet have sophisticated nanosystems that need to be interfaced. The closest current real- izations of assemblers operating with atomic precision are tip-based scanning probe devices that are digitally controlled; their nano/bio interface is indeed a standard IT man­machine interface. This kind of control will, however, be far too cumbersome for assemblers that are themselves nanosized--the lags in regulation would tend to generate chaos--hence the assemblers will need to operate with a great deal of auton- omy. Although the current generation of screen-based graphical user interfaces (GUI) might be slightly more convenient than punched tape or cards, the laborious letter by