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The Ethics and Politics of Nanotechnology
Brochure describing the science of nanotechnology and presenting some of the ethical, legal and political issues that face the international community in the near future.
The Ethics and Politics of Nanotechnology Nanotechnology could become the most influential force to take hold of the technology industry since the rise of the Internet. Nanotechnology could increase the speed of memory chips, remove pollution particles in water and air and find cancer cells quicker. Nanotechnology could prove beyond our control, and spell the end of our very existence as human beings. Nanotechnology could alleviate world hunger, clean the environment, cure cancer, guarantee biblical life spans or concoct super-weapons of untold horror. Nanotechnology could be the new asbestos. Nanotechnology could spur economic development through spin-offs of the research. Nanotechnology could harm the opportunities of the poor in developing countries. Nanotechnology could make the molecules in ice cream more uniform in size. Nanotechnology could enable a digital camera to work in the dark. Nanotechnology could clean up toxic waste on the atomic level. Nanotechnology could change the world from the bottom up. Nanotechnology could become an instrument of terrorism. Nanotechnology could lead to the next industrial revolution. Nanotechnology could transform the food industry. Nanotechnology could repair the ozone layer. Nanotechnology could change everything.

These are all bona fides lines culled from the headlines that start ‘Nanotechnology could…’. What are we to make of this incredibly contradictory welter of promises and warnings? How can one thing hold so much potential, even taking into account the hyperbolic enthusiasm of public relations experts and journalists? Despite these wild promises, there is in fact something specific to nanotechnology, and there are a handful of very specific concerns that should occupy citizens, politicians, scientists and businesspeople interested in this area.

In order to assess the ethical, legal and political aspects of nanotechnology it is essential to separate the tractable potential of nanotechnology from the imponderable possibilities. This document outlines what the science of nanotechnology is, and presents some of the ethical, legal and political issues that face the international community in the near future.

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Document Type Brochure
Format application/pdf
Website (URL) http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0014/001459/145951e.pdf
Author(s) UNESCO
Publisher UNESCO
Publication Location Paris
Publication Year 2006
Number of Pages 25 p.
Keywords nanotechnology, ethics

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