Increasingly, traditional governmental functions are being out-sourced from the state to non-governmental organizations (NGOs). These entities now perform as surrogate governments in areas as diverse as social welfare, primary education, prison management, and policy-making. With respect to policy-making, this trend is most pronounced with respect to the governance of emerging technologies. Increasing complexity, abstractness, uncertainty, pace of development, potentially significant economic value and, hence, geopolitical influence, simultaneously nudge these embryonic inventions beyond the comfort radii of most government institutions, but not beyond their radii of concern. NGOs often fill this gap between government capacity and concern, and, consequently, play critical roles in guiding technological development. Simultaneously, the possibilities of constructive coalitions between NGOs with overlapping agendas have often given way to unnecessarily agonal relationships that drain resources and thwart initiatives. This presentation will further explore the interpenetrations of policy-making, emerging technologies, NGOs/NGO coalitions, and the significance of their confluence for the molecular nanotechnology community.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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