Nanoethics heats up

The field of nanoethics has just gained two new organizations, both quite ambitious:

The Center on Nanotechnology and Society at Illinois Institute of Technology, is headed by Nigel Cameron: “the Center is taking the lead in agenda-setting for the ethical, legal and social issues raised by nano. Our unique network of civil society leaders brings inter-disciplinary expertise from left, right and center in the political-cultural spectrum. Our engagement with nanotechnology researchers and the nano business community helps ground our conversations.” While various groups are represented, any organization headed by Nigel seems likely to have a bioconservative—or their preferred term, biocentric—focus, opposing the more radical applications of nanotech, especially to the human body. But perhaps he will surprise us!

Also addressing the tough issues, including human enhancement, will be The Nanoethics Group: “October 3, 2005 – The Nanoethics Group today officially launched as a non-partisan think tank to study the societal, ethical and policy implications of nanotechnology – or the manipulation of molecule-sized materials to create new products. Driven by public anxiety and a lack of information in this area, the research group will tackle a broad range of unanswered and troubling questions about the new science, from terrorism to health concerns and more…Unlike other organizations in the field, The Nanoethics Group is led by professional ethicists with qualifications in both nanotechnology and communications.” [Update: the group has an interest in Taiwan.]

Foresight welcomes these new groups to the ongoing nanoethics debate, which gets its next installment—along with Applications, Policy, and Research—at the upcoming Foresight Conference, Oct. 22-27 in San Francisco. —CP

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