Politics is inseparable from the development of advanced nanotechnology. As research has progressed, public awareness has been on the rise, and with it, a political understanding of some of what is at stake in nanotechnology policy. Although some might look upon political interest in nanotechnology as unwelcome interference, it should be accepted as inevitable—even desirable. This argument is laid out with an eye toward the lessons of the past, the realities of the present, and the possibilities of the future.
A historical perspective: The tale of the development and regulation of another world-changing technology holds useful lessons for legislators, researchers, and nanotechnology advocates.
Present-day rhetoric and realities: Some of the limits and failings of today's nanotech-politics are the result of policymakers with too little technical know-how, and researchers with too little political know-how.
The future landscape: How nanotechnology may come to cut across tomorrow's political boundaries—and what potential pitfalls must be avoided by those who hope for a wise and safe transition into the age of nanotechnology.