Sunday, December 14, 2003

The Money, the Politics and the Politics

Sounds like I missed a great discussion in Palo Alto: "Nanotechnology: The Money, The Science and Politics of the Next Big Thing," sponsored by the Cato Institute. Fortunately, David B. Hughes supplied some insights for Nanodot, the Foresight Institute's discussion board. For a change, I'll let another writer make many of the points I've made previously on this blog, and give you some excerpts:

    The consensus seems to be that Drexler and his opponents are not communicating very well, because they are speaking two different languages. Drexler is a scientist and refuses to budge from high-minded scientific and academic principles, and standard protocols of open inquiry and fair discussion. The NNI is a political animal, speaking evasive bureaucratese and always mindful of their constituents. Ne’er the twain shall meet, conceptually.


    Many attendees commented on the perceived lack of principle of Drexler’s rivals. I repeatedly heard phrases such as ‘straw-man,’ ‘circular arguments,’ ‘bait and switch,’ ‘moving the goal posts,’ and the like applied to the NNI position and debating strategy. It seems pretty clear that Drexler owns both the moral and scientific high ground in the argument, though many seem to think he’s politically in over his head, outflanked and outnumbered, and ultimately can’t win.


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