Nanotech Needs a Hard Sell, Plus Education

Startling advances are being made in the emerging field of nanotechnology. For example, Naomi Halas and Jennifer West of Rice University in Houston recently announced that their nanoshells had proven effective at eradicating tumors in lab animals1; researchers at Harvard University reported creating hybrid nanowires that could be linked to conventional silicon circuits2; and government scientists at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago documented how they had engineered nanoparticles capable o

Jack Uldrich
Aug 29, 2004

Startling advances are being made in the emerging field of nanotechnology. For example, Naomi Halas and Jennifer West of Rice University in Houston recently announced that their nanoshells had proven effective at eradicating tumors in lab animals1; researchers at Harvard University reported creating hybrid nanowires that could be linked to conventional silicon circuits2; and government scientists at Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago documented how they had engineered nanoparticles capable of cleaning buildings exposed to radioactive materials.3

Possible Approaches To Dialogue

• Participatory and/or constructive technology assessment with stakeholders, particularly that which takes account of the dynamic interrelations between society and the development of nanotechnologies (see, for example, Rip et al., 1995).

• Scenario analysis with stakeholders to identify significant uncertainties that might emerge with nanotechnologies For example, the GM 'shocks and surprises' seminar organized by the Cabinet Office (2003).

• Direct public engagement such as...