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Archive for the 'Opinion' Category

Nanotechnology for personalized happiness measurement

Posted by Christine Peterson on August 14th, 2007

Nanowerk brings us an interview from Chemical Biology about the use of nanotechnology for the measurement of happiness. Yoshinobu Baba, a professor of chemistry at Nagoya University and a director for nanobiotechnology research at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Japan, explains: Nanobiotechnology could be used as a measure of happiness, [...]

Does public engagement in nanotechnology work?

Posted by Christine Peterson on August 9th, 2007

Nanowerk brings to our attention a new report Democratic technologies? The final report of the Nanotechnology Engagement Group (pdf) which examines the success or otherwise of various attempts at public engagement in nanotech. The foreword by Prof. Richard Jones ends: This report summarises the experiences of public engagement on nanotechnologies that have taken place over [...]

Nanotechnology: Activists throw baby out with bathwater

Posted by Christine Peterson on August 1st, 2007

First, I should state that I yield to no one when it comes to caring about the environment. That’s what got me interested in nanotechnology in the first place, and a large part of why Foresight was founded in 1986 and keeps going today. So I was disappointed with the recent press release from a [...]

Nanotechnology to fight climate change

Posted by Christine Peterson on July 23rd, 2007

Most of us are somewhat-to-very concerned about climate change — how can nanotechnology help? Nanowerk brings our attention to a UK report (pdf) looking at how relatively conservative nanotech advances could make a contribution: The study concludes that nanotechnology is likely to have a significant positive effect on the UK’s green house gas emissions: “From [...]

Nanotechnology views wanted by EC, including on enhancement

Posted by Christine Peterson on July 19th, 2007

In the process of preparing a nanotechnology Code of Conduct, the European Commission is requesting public input on a consultation paper. It sounds as though everyone is welcome to contribute. Being from Europe, the paper cites the precautionary principle, but goes further by listing some areas which may be too risky or unethical or rights-violating [...]

Nanotechnology risk governance to include weapons

Posted by Christine Peterson on July 13th, 2007

In the postal mail today was the paper copy of a 6-7 July 2006 conference report: “The Risk Governance of Nanotechnology: Recommendations for Managing a Global Issue” (link to PDF) held at the Swiss Re Centre for Global Dialogue last summer. This well-run and highly international meeting is the highest profile meeting to include consideration [...]

Nanotechnology podcast: near, mid, and long term

Posted by Christine Peterson on July 10th, 2007

Here at Foresight we like to present a balanced picture of nanotechnology, pushing for the benefits and heading off downsides. To do this, it’s necessary to discuss those nanotech downsides especially when someone asks about them. Earth & Sky asked me, and put the audio on the web: Upcoming, said Peterson, are issues of privacy [...]

Patent peer review: now software, soon nanotechnology?

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 27th, 2007

At one of the Accelerating Change conferences I saw Prof. Beth Noveck introduce for the first time her ideas on improving patents via peer review. Now, the nanotechnology field will be envious to hear that another field has been chosen to carry out the first pilot project — software, as reported in IEEE Spectrum: The [...]

Nanotechnology assemblers: likely or unlikely?

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 25th, 2007

The current issue of Nanotechnology Law and Business (Vol. 4, Issue 2) includes a surprising article called “Nanoassemblers: A Likely Threat?” by Martin Moskovits, a Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Dean of the Division of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the University of California Santa Barbara. I saw this just as I was heading [...]

Grueling nanotechnology policy interview pays off

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 20th, 2007

The nanotechnology project over at The Wilson Center sent Steffen Foss Hansen, a PhD candidate visiting from his university in Denmark, here to Foresight to interview me for a policy project they are doing on nanotech regulation. Normally these kinds of things don’t seem very useful, but I have to make an exception for this [...]

Nanotechnology: Enough with the wet/dry debate already

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 12th, 2007

Nanowerk brings to our attention some confusion on an IEEE blog: Somewhere along the line, the advocates for molecular nanotechnology (MNT) seem to have lost interest in actually seeing molecular manufacturing come to pass if it meant that the concepts of the mechanically engineered approach (Dry) are abandoned in favor of a biologically engineered method [...]

Maximizing nanotechnology patent benefits

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 5th, 2007

The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 in the U.S. gives patent rights for federally-funded research done in universities to the universities themselves, in effect. Many people regard this strategy as a succcess, and many countries around the world are copying it. But is this the best way to handle this publicly-funded intellectual property? After over 25 [...]

Food workers worried about nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 4th, 2007

Nanowerk brings to our attention a resolution on nanotechnology by a labor group for food and agricultural workers claiming to represent 12 million people. It has a number of sections, but here’s an example: To demand that national and international patent offices, like the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), decline to register all patent applications [...]

Dyson on opening up science

Posted by Christine Peterson on May 4th, 2007

To end our week on a cheerful note, Freeman Dyson points to a positive trend affecting nanotechnology in an interview in TCS Daily: I tell young people that the new technologies of computing, telecommunication, optical detection and microchemistry actually empower the amateur to do things that only professionals could do before. Amateurs and small companies [...]

Nanotechnology or not: Iron seeding of ocean seems premature at best

Posted by Christine Peterson on May 3rd, 2007

Regular readers of Nanodot know that we often disagree with ETC Group — but not always. They have issued a press release condemning a plan by a private firm to seed the ocean with iron particles in an effort to fight global warming. An excerpt: As worrying, Planktos boasts on their website that the iron [...]

Realism on the size of nanotechnology market

Posted by Christine Peterson on April 18th, 2007

Michael Berger of the useful Nanowerk website has produced a clarification essay on the size of the nanotechnology market, helping to put the hype in perspective. Some excerpts: First of all, these market size forecasts are dealing with what is called evolutionary nanotechnology. The goal of evolutionary nanotechnology is to improve existing processes, materials and [...]

Environmental groups dispute about nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on April 13th, 2007

We mentioned earlier a request for comment on a proposed Nano Risk Framework for approaching nanotechnology materials safety organized by Environmental Defense and DuPont. Now a different group of organizations has come out against that framework. Their statement is titled “Civil Society-Labor Coalition Rejects Fundamentally Flawed DuPont-ED Proposed Framework“. An excerpt: We reject outright the [...]

Nanotechnology patent problems blamed on unionization

Posted by Christine Peterson on April 9th, 2007

Small Times reports on a meeting held in Oregon among a wide variety of nanotechnology-based business participants, at which many commercialization challenges were discussed. One was difficulties encountered with the U.S. Patent office: Start-ups expressed frustration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Long waits for patent award decisions make it difficult for them [...]

Visionary Congressional report on nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on March 29th, 2007

Nanowerk brings our attention to a new report by the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress titled Nanotechnology: The Future is Coming Sooner Than You Think (pdf), apparently authored by Senior Economist Joseph V. Kennedy and sponsored by Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ). On molecular nanosystems: At this stage a single product will integrate a [...]

"Faster please" on nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on March 27th, 2007

In The Examiner, An Army of Davids author Prof. Glenn Reynolds makes nanotechnology one of his four technologies that deserve speeding up: Nanotechnology — a technology for making and engineering things on the molecular scale — is already a force in many areas, but at the moment it’s mostly a source of high strength materials, [...]