Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Nano goes back to school for Ethics 101

Despite what you might have read elsewhere about the government/corporate machine damning the ethical torpedoes and going full speed ahead with nano, here's some breaking news from the center of the conspiracy. Declaring that "nanotech also has the potential for unintended consequences, which is precisely why we can't allow the societal implications to be an afterthought," National Science Foundation Director Rita Colwell announced two new grants of more than a million each have been awarded for new studies on nanotech's impact on society.

Recipients include Davis Baird of the University of South Carolina and Lynne Zucker of the University of California, Los Angeles.

These grant recipients will join other government and private initiatives in the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere to make sure environmental and ethical concerns are thought through every step of the way as nanotech moves from a big idea to a big business.

Here's a quick look ahead in the ongoing environmental/ethical/policy debate:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is accepting applications until Dec. 11 for research to determine "the potential impacts of manufactured nanomaterials on human health and the environment."
  • The ETC Group's Pat Mooney plans to increase its activism at various forums around the world, including an event at Regent's College in London, where scheduled to give a talk titled, "Small is Dangerous: The Threat of Nanotechnology."
  • A number of government-appointed and independent panels worldwide will begin discussing the environmental and societal implications of nanotechnology, including: the Nanotechnology Technical Advisory Group, which will help advise the White House; the Health and Environmental Issues Task Force, named by the New York-based NanoBusiness Alliance to develop a library of literature and industry standards; and a British nanotechnology working group named by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering to study nanotech's potential benefits and problems.
  • Green Parties in Europe are preparing their nanotechnology strategies to present to the European Parliament.
  • Forums for debate and presentations on environmental issues will be featured at upcoming industry conferences, including CMP Cientifica's World Nano-Economic Congress in London this November, and an upcoming Small Times Media NanoCommerce conference in Chicago this December. (More details on this will come later).

Welcome back to nanoschool! Should be a fun, informative autumn!


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