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Foresight Nanotech Institute Public Policy

Foresight Institute focuses its public policy activities on maximizing the benefits and minimizing the downsides of nanotechnology. Our policy efforts involve many policy areas: from setting an appropriate level of safety research funding, to exploring how to increase access to nanotechnologies; from helping promote specific technical breakthroughs, to reviewing how publicly funded nanotech patents can be better administered for greatest societal benefit.

As the largest civil society organization focused specifically on nanotechnology issues, Foresight Institute uses a variety of processes to develop and deliver policy education and recommendations. These include commissioning policy studies, speaking on policy topics for diverse audiences, testifying for government committees, briefing the press on policy matters, conducting surveys, and discussing policy issues in open online public discussions.

Individuals and organizations are invited to participate in Foresight policy activities. We encourage your suggestions for policy study topics, critiques of our positions on the issues, and comments on our weblog.

We are particularly interested in cooperating with other organizations in policy studies on how nanotechnologies will affect their areas of concern, from medicine, to the environment, the developing world, and other areas that will experience a strong impact from nanotech. Individuals are invited to join as Foresight members, and corporations can participate through corporate membership, conference sponsorship, or underwriting policy studies of mutual interest. Foundations and other organizations with an interest in our work should speak with Christine Peterson, Foresight's President.

Policy White Papers

Sample work on public policy issues by Foresight directors, staff, and associates:
Foresight policy white papers

Policy Announcements

ICON Environmental, Health, and Safety Practices Survey, summer 2006

"The University of California, Santa Barbara has contracted with the International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON) to design and administer a survey examining the environmental, health, and safety practices of companies working with nanomaterials. This survey will be implemented internationally during the summer of 2006. Current practices for managing nanomaterial risks will be discovered through this survey. The results will be aggregated according to nanotechnology industry; ICON will then publicly disseminate the aggregated results. …"

Invitation For Interview, PDF file, 124 KB

Policy Issues Briefs

Discussions of Policy Topics


As advancing technology enables more thorough and less expensive surveillance, what issues are worth exploring to ensure that these capabilities are deployed for beneficial purposes.
Nanosurveillance: Issues meriting exploration

Huge economic, environmental, health, and security benefits are expected from the coming nanotechnology-enabled Sensor Age—if these devices are accepted by the public. Is there an open-source solution to the looming conflict between those using sensors to collect data and those whose data is being collected?
Open Source Sensing Initiative—a Foresight Institute project