UNESCO's view on Nanotech

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Its quite a relieve that Nanotech's societal implication has finally drawn the attention of UNESCO. And guess what, their attention does not only covers nanoscale tech and nanomaterials but also molecular nanotechnology! Isnt that cool? In a recently published ebook titled "The ethics and politics of Nanotechnology", the UNESCO outlined potential societal impacts of nanotech. I like mostly page 16 of the book:

There are, however, a number of other issues that cannot be strictly accounted for through the technical mindset of risk analysis. These broader ethical and political issues include those of intellectual property, secrecy and legitimacy of scientific results, the potential for a knowledge divide based both on funding and on the legal implications of intellectual property. At a very broad level, the question concerns whether nanotechnology as a science will look like, and proceed like, the traditional science of the past, or whether it will be transformed by new political, social and legal pressures into something that is no longer so familiar.

What interest me too is the position of the book toward Transhumanism:

A similar distraction is created by discussions of 'post-humanism'. In this debate, a variety of proposed uses for nanotechnology to enhance, repair, replace, or augment human characteristics are introduced. Such enhancements run the gamut from nanoscale sensors that might be added to the retina that improve sight to cochlear implants that improve hearing to performance enhancement technologies for athletes to new forms of plastic surgery. Discussions of post-humanism encounter the opposite problem from those of the 'grey-goo' scenario: They assume that the ethical dilemmas that nanotechnology will create await us in the future and that we must prepare for them, whereas they are in fact issues that already face us today, such as performance enhancing drugs in sports, genetic screening for human characteristics, or privacy concerns over the handling of information technologies that we carry on our bodies.

Anyway, I only did a skimming. Ill do some more reading and we can discuss this book further. You can download the book here