Wednesday, September 03, 2003

Nanoclass warfare dispatch

This just in on Pat Mooney and the ETC Group. I wrote last week that the group plans to increase its anti-nanotech activism at various forums around the world, including a talk at a London event, "Small is Dangerous: The Threat of Nanotechnology." Mooney came through, delivering his usual spiel on how nanotech is the tool of the wealthy and will widen the "gulf between rich and poor." "Every technology wave has a crest and a trough," Reuters quotes Mooney as saying. "The poor stay in the trough. It will happen again with the new wave ... which is being led by the world's largest corporations ... and we are not aware of it," he added. He's right about the world's largest corporations discovering nanotechnology. But it's a recent phenomenon. So recent that Small Times is in the process of planning its 2004 editorial calendar with this trend in mind. So, if the public isn't aware of it now, it will be by the end of next year. Despite what Mooney says, it's really small businesses that are on nanotech's leading edge right now. The sudden interest from multinational corporations will be both a curse and a blessing for these tiny companies -- and of course, the bigger the beast, the wider the disconnect between brain and action. Corporate irresponsibility is sure to result as layers upon layers of accountability and deniability are added. Mooney is correct in identifying that trend for what it is: A predictable pattern. My unabashed cheerleading over nanotechnology's amazing potential aside, I'm not really a nanotech advocate or detractor. That would be akin to staking out a position "for" or "against" the eventual arrival of October. I am certain of its inevitability. But I do possess a naive optimism in our ability to prepare for the changing season based on weather patterns of the past. This Reuters story presents a balance between the nano optimists and pessimists. As I've written before, now is the time to pay attention and make the right decisions to ensure nanotechnology develops in a responsible way. Discuss

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