Nanotechnology - Implications


The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology warns of the broad societal implications of untraceable weapons of mass destruction, networked cameras for use by the government, and weapons developments fast enough to destabilize arms races.

Another area of concern is the effect that industrial-scale manufacturing and use of nanomaterials would have on human health and the environment, as suggested by nanotoxicology research. For these reasons, groups such as the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology advocate that nanotechnology be regulated by governments. Others counter that overregulation would stifle scientific research and the development of beneficial innovations. Public health research agencies, such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health are actively conducting research on potential health effects stemming from exposures to nanoparticles.

Some nanoparticle products may have unintended consequences. Researchers have discovered that bacteriostatic silver nanoparticles used in socks to reduce foot odor are being released in the wash. These particles are then flushed into the waste water stream and may destroy bacteria which are critical components of natural ecosystems, farms, and waste treatment processes.

Public deliberations on risk perception in the US and UK carried out by the Center for Nanotechnology in Society found that participants were more positive about nanotechnologies for energy applications than for health applications, with health applications raising moral and ethical dilemmas such as cost and availability.

Experts, including director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies David Rejeski, have testified that successful commercialization depends on adequate oversight, risk research strategy, and public engagement. Berkeley, California is currently the only city in the United States to regulate nanotechnology; Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2008 considered enacting a similar law, but ultimately rejected it. Relevant for both research on and application of nanotechnologies, the insurability of nanotechnology is contested. Without state regulation of nanotechnology, the availability of private insurance for potential damages is seen as necessary to ensure that burdens are not socialised implicitly.

Read more about this topic:  Nanotechnology

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Famous quotes containing the word implications:

    The power to guess the unseen from the seen, to trace the implications of things, to judge the whole piece by the pattern, the condition of feeling life in general so completely that you are well on your way to knowing any particular corner of it—this cluster of gifts may almost be said to constitute experience.
    Henry James (1843–1916)

    When it had long since outgrown his purely medical implications and become a world movement which penetrated into every field of science and every domain of the intellect: literature, the history of art, religion and prehistory; mythology, folklore, pedagogy, and what not.
    Thomas Mann (1875–1955)

    Philosophical questions are not by their nature insoluble. They are, indeed, radically different from scientific questions, because they concern the implications and other interrelations of ideas, not the order of physical events; their answers are interpretations instead of factual reports, and their function is to increase not our knowledge of nature, but our understanding of what we know.
    Susanne K. Langer (1895–1985)