Church of Scotland wants nanotechnology to respect certain limits drawn from…the arts?

Rocky Rawstern of Nanotechnology Now brings our attention to an article in The Scotsman on the views of Dr. Donald Bruce, head of the Church of Scotland’s Society, Religion and Technology Project.

While there is much that we would agree with in Dr. Bruce’s position — for example, a concern about nanotechnology possibly leading to “increased surveillance of citizens under the guise of national security, or even be used by terrorists” — he goes too far.

According to the article, commenting on nanotechnology, Dr. Bruce writes, “New developments must respect certain limits drawn from religious and cultural traditions, philosophy and theology, the arts and humanities, and the social sciences.”

Limits drawn from ethics and morals — yes, whenever agreement on these can be reached. From religion and theology — there are different versions which disagree, and at least in the U.S., government is not supposed to pick just one to determine public policy. Philosophy, humanities, social science — good luck getting clear signals from these on technological issues, but if one can do so, by all means let’s consider them.

But the arts? Nanotechnology is supposed to respect limits drawn from the arts themselves, apart from the fields listed above? Who would select which artworks and art interpretations define these limits?

I’m guessing that the arts got onto this list through a spirit of inclusion taken rather too far. —Christine

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