Directing the Invisible: Citizen Involvement in Nanotechnology
Welcome to the future...are you ready to have a say?
Referring to the manipulation and study of impossibly small
things, and as a field that has almost no publicity in the mainstream
social conscience, nanotechnology seems to hold the essence of
is a field of research that has been developing since the 1960’s and continues
to expand at a rapid rate. It has already delivered a wide array of products
into the field of commerce ranging from golf-clubs to suntan lotion (Project
on Emerging Nanotechnologies). Billions of dollars from various private and
governmental sources are placed into nanotechnology research in the United
States every year – clearly, it is a quickly
evolving field of technology. I feel this evolution begs a number of questions.
nanotechnology research are appearing in universities across the United
States, but who is paying for this research?
The results of nanotechnology research will likely provide countless medical
and engineering developments, but what kinds of social and economic problems
may result from a rapid introduction of these technologies to the market?
Nanotechnology could reinvent espionage or the entirety of war as we know it,
but do we want to research such a potentially dangerous weapon? In the United
States, limitations might be posed on the
research and distribution of nanotechnology, but how then do we maintain
international competitiveness when many other industrialized nations are
heavily researching this new science?
The discussion surrounding these
and the myriad other questions about nanotechnology could easily go on for
hundreds, maybe even thousands of pages. Because the results of the
discussions of these concerns will matter to everyone, what is really important
is that United Statescitizens
be prepared to make a decision about them, and know how to voice their
opinions. I hope that the information on this website will provide you
with the basic knowledge required to have a hand in the outcomes of
(© Institute for Molecular Manufacturing)
Fig. 1: An artist's rendering of a hypothetical
nanoscale machine - each little ball represents a single atom, arranged
into a working mechanical device.