Article argues against control of nanotech research

An article in the Dallas Business Journal ("Chicken Little is still alive and squawking: New technologies give rise to echoes of old fears", by Bartlett Cleland, 18 January 2002) says "The past 200 years have brought an age of wonder with constant life-changing inventions and mind-stretching advances. But every step forward has had its accompanying Luddites — the skeptics, the fearful and opportunists who express their outrage at progress. Today, their latest fear is nanotechnology."

Cleland, who is director of the Center for Technology Freedom at the Insititute for Policy Innovation in Lewisville, Texas, writes "already the fear-mongers are lining up to proclaim that nanotechnology will bring about the end of all humanity — a familiar refrain from those who fear the future. Much as Chicken Little did, these folks scream that the sky is falling even before they know the facts."

As has been argued elsewhere, Cleland says it is no solution to abandon or relinquish technological research and development: "Technology's track record is one of progress, not destruction. . . . This is not to say that technology is essentially good, but neither is it evil. It is the users of technology who decide whether it is used for good or for evil. . . . The future worth fearing is one where the good guys don't get there first, and the "bad guys" better understand, control and access superior technology. Restraints on the development of technology by the civilized world only give the upper hand to those who are not going to obey the law anyway."

Cleland concludes: "Many will try to regulate the advancement of nanotechnology for their own ends or because of their fears. But policy makers should resist the temptation to regulate nanotechnology. . . . Nanotechnology holds great promise for many areas of life. Those who fear the future will continue to whip up fear and concern rather than to engage in logical and productive analysis. Because to fear the future rather than to shape it correctly is a sure means to a disastrous outcome."

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