Nanobio governance: exploring models for oversight

The report from the September 2005 workshop on The Nanotechnology-Biology Interface: Exploring Models for Oversight has been issued today by the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

In addition to the usual nanoparticle safety discussions, the report touches on bigger issues. From the press release:

“The report also calls for more conversation about nanotechnology that is not confined to science and safety. Novel applications, such as cognitive enhancement, will present society with fundamental social, cultural, and ethical issues that we only have begun to discuss. The report outlines other important issues in technology oversight. How will new applications affect the structure of industry? Will the technology be deployed equitably? What are the rights of consumers to be informed and make choices about nanotechnology? What are appropriate limits of nanotechnology? The report concludes that we need better institutions for discussing societal issues surrounding the nanotechnology-biology interface.”

From the report’s section on my talk:

“In the longer term, molecular nanosystems, not just materials or single devices, will emerge. The boundaries for this era will be limited only by what is physically or chemically possible. Longer term goals for the use of nanotechnology might also include more complete control of the structure of matter, making materials atomically precise, and designing molecular machines to do work. With these future applications, additional governance issues arise. Health and environmental safety issues will still be around, however, concerns about privacy and surveillance will increase, as well as the use of nanotechnology for terrorism.”

Speaker slides are also available on the site. —Christine

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