from the public-affairs dept.
A pair of recent guest editorials in major San Francisco and Seattle newspapers have called for increased focus and greater funding for U.S. nanotechnology programs:
- San Francisco Chronicle columnist Hal Plotkin, who is also the Silicon Valley Correspondent for CNBC.com, writes in his piece ("The Tech Sector Needs A Nanotechnology Target", 21 June 2001): "As a field, nanotechnology is about where rocket science was at the dawn of the Space Age. Huge early investments in the space race yielded technological dividends that are only now beginning to dwindle. A similar race toward inner space will probably lead to even more lasting rewards." Plotkin also notes "Concerns over safety have already led to the creation of a voluntary set of ethical guidelines for nanotechnologists. The proposed rules say a lot about what could happen if something goes wrong", and points to the Foresight Guidelines.
- And in the Seattle Times, Thomas Kalil, a former deputy assistant to the president for technology and economic policy in the Clinton administration, criticizes the Bush Administrationís proposed FY2002 budget (" Cutting-edge small technology deserves big U.S. investment ", 28 June 2001). Even though nanotech-oriented programs in the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative saw a 23% increase in the proposed budget, overall funding for many of the agencies involved was cut. Kalil writes: "Unfortunately, the budget the Bush administration has submitted to Congress will make it difficult to significantly expand the NNI. The Bush plan would cut the research budgets of the National Science Foundation, NASA and the Department of Energy, agencies that all play a key role in the NNI . . . For a number of reasons, however, a failure to significantly expand U.S. government funding for nanotechnology would be a serious blow to America's future."
Kalil concludes, "At a minimum, the Bush administration and Congress should work together to double federal spending on nanotechnology research over the next five years. America's economic and technology leadership in the 21st century will depend on these kinds of farsighted investments."