Categorizing Nanotech's Risks

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A news in the CM-Life said:

Nanotechnology is a field of applied science focused on the design, synthesis, characterization and application of materials and devices on the nanoscale.The potential risks of nanotechnology can be broadly categorized into three areas: the risk to health and environment, the risk posed by molecular manufacturing and societal risks.

I think, when we talk about nanotech, we need to clearly distinguish between "existing" nanotechnology and molecular manufacturing. The former's risk are "current", the latter's are "future".

Risks raised by existing nanotechnology can be solved through institutional approaches, analogical interpretation of statues, enactment of new regulations, oversight empowerment and so on. The only barrier in creating the regulation for existing Nanotechnologies is -- so far -- unavailability of database and unclear research results on nanotoxicology.

Molecular Manufacturing risks are a different thing. It cannot be adressed through existing institutional approaches as it will render the current legal paradigms obsolete. Molecular Manufacturing will have its own environmental, health and societal risks.