Monday, August 09, 2004

Conquer the Divide

Reading this headline from SciDevNet, Small is not always beautiful, I was prepared to dismiss the article as just another "nanotech will ruin the environment, kill your fish and insult your grandmother" story, but then I read further. It's an excellent commentary by David Dickson. Here's an excerpt:

    What, then, should be done to minimise the risks of what some have described as a 'nano-divide' opening up between the rich and the poor nations of the world?

    The first is to ensure that the latter are encouraged to develop the skills and the infrastructure that are essential if they are fully to grasp the opportunities that nanoscience is already creating.

    Some of this is required at a basic educational level. Other needs exist at the level of advanced training in relevant skills. Both are essential if countries are going to develop the capacity to secure and develop nano-products that meet their social needs.

    Secondly, major efforts are needed to build the dissemination channels that will ensure these needs are actually met. There is no lack of imagination within the nanotechnology community of the potential applications of their work; the difficult task is creating the systems of innovation that will ensure that ideas turn into realities.

    This may involve new forms of public-private partnerships, where one side on its own is incapable of meeting demand satisfactorily. It will certainly mean addressing obstacles, ranging from market failure to intellectual property rights, that increase the difficulties of this happening satisfactorily.

    Finally,informed public debate is essential if those who stand to benefit most directly from the new technology are not frightened off by stories about its potential dangers. More here

I know of a few new and upcoming efforts to bridge this potential divide, and I plan on highlighting them in the near future. Stay tuned.

NanoBot Backgrounder
Sen. Clinton on nano-inequities and nano-economics
You say you got a real solution …
Do they know it's nanotime at all?