Brainstorming to prevent nanotech-based terrorism

from the Applied-group-genius dept.
In his weekly column on technology and public policy for Tech Central Station, University of Tennessee law professor and Foresight Director Glenn Reynolds calls 2001 "the year that people started to get serious about the promises and dangers of nanotechnology" ("Preventing Nanoterror Now", 27 December 2001). Reynolds lauds recent efforts to envision ñ and therefore prevent — possible dangers from and misuse of molecular nanotechnology, such as the recent AAAS symposium that included a panel discussion on nanotech dangers that included Eric Drexler, and points to efforts such as the Foresight Guidelines for the safe development of nanotechnology.

But Reynolds goes on to suggest that policy makers need to do much more to develop a broad vision of potential nanotech threats. One possibility: "get together technical experts, leading science fiction writers, experts on terrorism, and some people who have thought about the social impacts of nanotechnology, and have them brainstorm on the kinds of threats that might emerge. From this, we could then move to a consideration of how to prevent those threats from becoming realities. . . . To broaden the idea base, we might also solicit suggestions from the general public", perhaps from web-based forums such as here on Nanodot. "I imagine that such an effort would yield thousands of ideas, from which experts could evaluate the best", says Reynolds. And he concludes:

"Where this powerful technology is concerned, a nanogram of prevention is worth a kilogram of cure. Letís start thinking about nanoterrorism now, while we have the luxury of time. Itís a luxury that wonít last forever."

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