Tuesday, March 13, 2007

NanoEthics today

My friend and colleague Patrick Lin is the Research Director for The Nanoethics Group. Quoting from their website:

"The Nanoethics Group is a non-partisan and independent organization that studies the ethical and societal implications of nanotechnology. We also engage the public as well as collaborate with nanotech ventures and research institutes on related issues that will impact the industry. By proactively opening a dialogue about the possible misuses and unintended consequences of nanotechnology, the industry can avoid the mistakes that others have made repeatedly in business, most recently in the biotech sector - ignoring the issues, reacting too late and losing the critical battle of public opinion."

From my point of view, Patrick is an intelligent, articulate and knowledgeable speaker for his cause; one which I fully support. So it was a great pleasure to hear that TNG has recently spoken at the Cal/EPA Nanotechnology Symposium, where Patrick presented "Understanding the Debate: A Critical Look at Reasons For and Against More Regulation in Nanotechnology."

And now quoting from their press release regarding (1) the symposium:

"Dr. Lin will explain the overarching argument for stricter laws and regulations in nanotechnology as well as evaluate its initial plausibility. He will then provide analysis for five main objections to the argument, with a focus on the two strongest objections: 1) the Self-Regulation objection that it is better for the nano-industry to regulate itself, rather than have new rules imposed by government agencies less familiar with the industry or nanotech; and 2) the Other Harms objection that new rules would stunt the growth of a nascent nano-industry, causing economic damage and other harms."

As a follow-up to the symposium, TNG produced a PDF (2) covering Patrick’s slide show. You will get a nice overview of TNG’s positions regarding the crucial issues surrounding nanotechnology. One of the points that I take away from the PDF is their statement that "We’re not activists, advocates or watchdogs," which I find to be both factual and a policy that makes them a bit more credible than those with an ax to grind.

I encourage you to read through the material provided by TNG (links below). Once you have read it, you will be a great deal more informed regarding why we need to pay attention to nanotechnologies. You will also be better able to take part in the debate; a debate that all stakeholders (anyone who has a vested interest in a goal; that’s you and I and everyone else who lives on Planet Earth) need to pay attention to.

(1) http://www.nanoethics.org/rls022007.html
(2) http://www.nanoethics.org/slides.pdf

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