Foresight Activities > Foresight Conferences > The 1st Adv. Nanotech. Conf. > Abstracts

Transnational Regulatory Models for Molecular Nanotechnology

Gary Marchant*, Jonathan Swartz, and Michael Volk

Arizona State University College of Law
Tempe AZ 85287-7906 USA

This is an abstract for a presentation given at the
1st Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology:
Research, Applications, and Policy


As Fenyman's dream of atomically precise molecular machine systems created from the bottom up becomes more real, the geopolitical pressure to regulate nanotechnology will increase. Many nanotechnology advances are likely to present what the National Academy of Sciences recently referred to as the 'dual use dilemma' in that they have potential for both beneficial and destructive applications. Potential regulatory models for molecular nanotechnology, particularly at the international level, will benefit from an examination of the successes and failures of prior efforts to regulate dual use technologies. This presentation explores regulatory models with respect to the unique issues raised by molecular nanotechnology. The presentation presents international regulatory precedents, draws analogies, describes the strengths and weaknesses of past applications, considers how molecular nanotechnology may be different, and explores the usefulness of the model as applied to nanotechnology. Specifically, the presentation will describe and evaluate multilateral regulations (e.g., Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Anti-Satellite/ABM Treaty, etc.), multilateral prohibitions (e.g., human reproductive cloning, etc.), joint development agreements (e.g., outer space treaty, International Atomic Energy Agency, Maritime law, etc.), information secrecy (e.g., export control, restrictions on scientific publication, etc.), control of technology via intellectual property and licensing (e.g., TRIPS, DMCA/DVD descrambling code, etc.), funding and financial incentive programs (e.g., government funded research, research prizes, etc.), and industry and government guidelines/codes of conduct (e.g., UN environmental codes, Foresight Institute guidelines, Asimolar rDNA guidelines, etc.). The strengths, shortcomings, and lessons from each of these regulatory approaches and precedents area analyzed and applied to the development of potential regulatory models for molecular nanotechnology.

*Corresponding Address:
Gary Marchant
Arizona State University College of Law
PO Box 877906, Tempe AZ 85287-7906 USA
Phone: 480-965-3246 Fax: 480-965-2427

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