...will overtake every atom we deal with.
The logic of the network will spread from its base in silicon chips, to infiltrate steel, plywood, chemical dyes, and potato chips. All manufacturing, whether seeded with silicon wafers or not, will respond to network principles.
Consider oil--the quintessential atom-based resource. The classical theory of diminishing returns was practically invented to explain the oil industry. Easy oil is extracted cheaply at first; then at a certain point the expense of extraction doesn't justify the cost unless the price goes up. But by now the oil industry is so invaded by chip technology that it is beginning to obey the laws of the new economy. Sophisticated 3D viewing software allows geologists to map oil-yielding layers to within a few meters; computer-guided flexible drills can burrow sideways with precision, reaching small pockets of oil. Superior pumps extract more oil with less energy and maintenance. Diminishing returns are halted. The oil flows steadily at steady prices, as the oil industry slides into the new economy.