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Nanotechnology The Next Revolution
If nanotechnology is developed as it is foreseen by many optimistic
researchers, it would revolutionize many industries, such as computing,
military, security and medicine. Although many problems the world
is facing now could be solved by nanotechnology, the potential harm
from abusing nanotechnology is astonishing. For example, diseases
like cancer could be treated much better but also new weapons (including
biological and chemical) could be developed using the same technology.
Who should have the right to research, sell, and use the new technology?
Should governments regulate nanotechnology research in order to
prevent any misuse? How could they achieve that goal? What are the
drawbacks of government regulations? Would an international treaty
between all major nanotechnology researching nations help?
Hypothetical Scenario: You are a senior advisor of the
President of the United States on the field of emerging technologies
which includes the large topic of nanotechnology. Five years ago,
the US Government increased research funding for Molecular Nanotechnology
(MNT) to $ 200 billion per year, in contrast to the actual current
funding of around $ 800 million per year.
In a recently published article in the magazine MNT TODAY, the leading
US researcher on nanotechnology, Gray G. Nano, has announced that
in three years the technology will be so far advanced that the first
simple assemblers could be built making many products easier, faster
and cheaper to build. One of the major consequences of this technological
advancement would be that millions of manufacturing and engineering
jobs would become needless the unemployment rate would increase
What advice would you give President X?
Hypothetical Scenario: After working for
20 years on molecular nanotechnology, you have become a leading
scientist in medical nanotechnology. You get a job offer from MtC
Corp., a huge multinational chemical medicine company, who wants
to develop a new method of recognizing diseases and producing medicine
by using molecular nanotechnology. As there is no other scientist
with your expertise in this field, they want to pay you a salary
of $ 1,000,000 to join their research team.
You know that if the project is successful nearly all diseases could
be cured and many people who suffer could get help. The company
would probably become the world leader in medical products.
Would you accept their offer?
You later learn that the company is located on the Cayman Islands
and does not have to obey most of the national and international
rules. Without any government regulation, it could also use the
scientific outcome to develop new biological and chemical weapons
in order to sell them to different states, although they deny pursuing
Would you accept their offer under these circumstances?