Drexer warns symposium about NT dangers

from the pay-attention-to-reality dept.
Krees writes: "Foresight founder Eric Drexler addresed a terrorism symposium Tuesday [18 December], warning of the "extreme downsides" of nanotechnology and criticizing some nanotech researchers for their apparent failure to consider the negative applications of their technologies. Sandia's Gerard Yonas also spoke on the emerging field of cognotechnology (convergence of nanotech, biotech and IT) for remote brain sensing and mind control."

Dr. Drexler, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing and Foresight Board Chair, spoke during a panel discussion "The War On Terrorism: What Does It Mean for Science?", held on 18 December 2001 in Washington, D.C.

An article on the Small Times website ("Drexler warns terror symposium: Nanotech has ëextreme downsidesí ", by Doug Brown, 19 December 2001) provides extensive coverage:
ìOne of my profound hopes is that the new spirit of seriousness about life and death issues that we see in the wake of Sept. 11 Ö will encourage people to pay a little less attention to politics and a little more attention to reality,î said Drexler. ìThis is a technology which can reasonably be described as extreme in all directions: extreme upsides, extreme downsides.î
Drexler also noted that many scientists who are eager to slapped the term "nanotechnology" on their research when it was viewed as ìsexy,î but became ìa little upset to find that they had a label on their work that was associated with outrageous, science-fictiony sounding claims about the future and scary scenarios and other thingsî, with the result that many members of the nanotechnology research community ìlike to distance themselves from the consequences of their own work.î

For some background, read the Foresight Position Statement on Avoiding High-Tech Terrorism, and an open letter from Dr. Drexler on "Nanotechnology: Six Lessons from Sept. 11".

The Small Times article also covers comments by Foresight Executive Director Chuck Piercey on the funding of long-term nanotechnology research, and Gerald Yonas, vice president and principal scientist at Sandia National Laboratories, who described an emerging field he calls ìcognotechnology,î a convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology and information technology. With nanotechnology, he said, itís feasible to use brain implants to moderate behavior or brain functioning; he also discussed a developing field that focuses on remote sensing of brain function, including the intention to commit deception [Progress toward such systems was reported here on 13 November 2001.]
ìThere are two sides to the sword of science and technology, and as we move forward there is no way we can stop any advance from happening, but we should be aware of the implications and the possibilities,î he said, ìand long before these things happen we ought to think about, 'What are the rules?' î

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