Thursday, February 09, 2006

Nano and the ELSI

The Bioethics Blog asks about Nanoethics - is there a there there?
But it is clear from reading just the 10% or so of the dozens of blogs and hundreds of articles that cross my desk in this area that there are interesting social issues here, and that they deserve serious consideration, whether they are special or not. They are there and even if the money devoted to "nanoethics" becomes much like that devoted to ELSI in its formative years at NHGRI, it is easy to see that careers built around the early study of the very small could yield very big scholarship, and new ways of communicating with the public. Even if at the end of the day the work these people do isn't primarily about nanotechnology.

And it seems clear too that the crowd who do nanoscience are just at the beginning of the curve when it comes to understanding the risks associated with making utopian projections for the future of bionanotechnology - projections whose analog in gene therapy resulted in huge misconceptions among research subjects. Just look to South Korea to see what happens when people believe that technology is earth shaking long before it can even shake the building.

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