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Widespread hypocrisy about nanotechnology?
Written by Gizmo   
Friday, 30 March 2007 11:58

Nanowerk News

Is nanotechnology a ground breaking powerful new technology? Or is it neither new nor really a singular technology? We are told that it heralds "the next industrial revolution". Will its effects be revolutionary? Or familiar and incremental? Is nanotechnology's development inevitable? Or precarious? Are its implications nothing to be afraid of? Or are they so profound as to give cause for alarm? Does nanotechnology raise important new ethical issues or not?

Read the full story at Nanowerk News:

Australian ethicist Dr Robert Sparrow from the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University claims that widespread hypocrisy about nanotechnology is a worrying sign and he provides a detailed new critique of the contradictions inherent in the emerging debate about nanotechnology in an essay that is posted on the Friends of the Earth website.

Here are excerpts as posted on FoE's website:

"A not-so-subtle hypocrisy pervades discussion of nanotechnology. Enthusiasts for nanotechnology make one set of claims when they want to advertise and promote this technology and another, often directly opposed, set of claims when sceptics about the technology question their enthusiasm. As a consequence, the terms of the debate about nanotechnology shift so as to hamper substantial critical engagement about the future of this technology...

A proper critical assessment of the impacts, costs, and benefits of the adoption of nanotechnology will not be possible until we can clear away some of the hype around it and adjudicate between the competing claims made on its behalf. If there are only different nanotechnologies, if they are already familiar to us, if we have a choice as to whether to develop them, and if they are adequately regulated by existing institutions or something like them, then there may well be nothing to be afraid of and no significant ethical issues that we need to resolve. If, alternatively, nanotechnology is a revolutionary new technology, the development of which appears to be inevitable, and which raises profound challenges to our regulatory systems as well as new ethical issues, then we would do well to proceed cautiously, if at all. Working out which of the very different claims made about nanotechnology are true is therefore essential if we’re to be able to make informed decisions about it."

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