Social and Ethical Implications of Nanotechnology View Full Text


Ontology type: schema:Chapter     


Chapter Info

DATE

2004

AUTHORS

William Sims Bainbridge

ABSTRACT

Nanotechnology will have very broad applications across all fields of engineering, so it will be an amplifier of the social effects of other technologies. There is an especially great potential for it to combine with three other powerful trends – biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive science – based on the material unity of nature at the nanoscale and on technology integration from that scale. Technological convergence highlights such existing issues as the treatment of the disabled, communication breakdowns, economic stagnation, and threats to national security. Nanotechnology itself may possibly raise distinctive ethical and social issues in the future, but much of the public discussion to this point has been misdirected and misinformed, lacking a firm social scientific basis. Thus it will be important to integrate social and ethical studies into nanotechnology developments from their very beginning. Social scientific and economic research can help manufacturers and governments make the right decisions when deploying a new technology, maximizing its benefit for human beings. In addition, technically competent research on the societal implications of nanotechnology will help give policymakers and the general public a realistic picture free of unreasonable hopes or fears. The costs of premature or excessive regulation would be extremely high, harming the very people it was intended to protect, and failure to develop beneficial nanotechnology applications would be unethical. The significance of nanotechnology depends largely on how its development relates towider trends going on in the world such as the impending population declines of most advanced industrial nations, the apparent diminishing returns to increased medical research and health care investment, and the threatened deceleration of progress in microelectronics. Well established social-scientific explanations for unethical behavior – such as learning, strain, control, and subculture theories – could help us understand possible future cases in nanotechnology industries. Ethics and social implications are largely matters of social perception, and the public conception of nanotechnology is still in the early stages of developing. Social science can now begin to examine its unfolding impacts in all sectors of the economy, in most spheres of life, and both short-term and long-term time scales. More... »

PAGES

1135-1151

References to SciGraph publications

  • 2002-12. Public Attitudes Toward Nanotechnology in JOURNAL OF NANOPARTICLE RESEARCH
  • 2001-09. Of Chemistry, Love and Nanobots in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN
  • Book

    TITLE

    Springer Handbook of Nanotechnology

    ISBN

    978-3-540-01218-4
    978-3-540-29838-0

    Author Affiliations

    Identifiers

    URI

    http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1007/3-540-29838-x_38

    DOI

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/3-540-29838-x_38

    DIMENSIONS

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