US citizens weigh in on nanotechnology for human enhancement

The Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University is one of two centers funded by the National Science Foundation to study nanotechnology in society. One of their tools for studying the impact of nanotech upon society is the National Citizens’ Technology Forum (NCTF). They have recently published the results of their National Citizens’ Technology Forum: Public Deliberation about Nanotechnology for Human Enhancement. From their downloadable brochure:

In March 2008, eighty-six people across six nationwide panels participated in the National Citizens’ Technology Forum on “Human Enhancement Through Nanotechnology.” These citizens ranged from teens to seniors and had no previous expertise or experience in nanotechnology. They studied background material, met face-to-face, and participated in nine, two-hour Internet discussion forums with scientist experts. During their final meeting, each panel wrote a Citizen’s Report that outlines their optimism, concerns and recommendations regarding human enhancement technologies.

The reports address socio-economic, safety, environmental, health and governance issues, as well as regulatory challenges and human identity concerns. This project gives average citizens a voice in the early stages of nano-scale science and engineering research and development. It is noteworthy that every report implores policymakers, research scientists, and the private sector to recognize that real-time citizen input is essential to fully understanding the societal implications of emerging technologies.

The final reports from the six sites are available in their entirety here.

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