Foresight Nanotech Institute Logo
Image of nano

Archive for the 'Ethics' Category

Alien Invasion

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on February 24th, 2010

Robin Hanson comments on David Brin’s response to a New Scientist editorial. As Brin notes, many would-be broadcasters come from an academic area where for decades the standard assumption has been that aliens are peaceful zero-population-growth no-nuke greens, since we all know that any other sort quickly destroy themselves.  This seems to me an instructive [...]

Software responsibility as model for nanotech?

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 4th, 2010

Foresight ally Jeff Ubois has a new book out, published by Fondazione Giannino Bassetti, Conversations on Innovation, Power, and Responsibility.  Yours truly is quoted.  An excerpt: Peterson suggests that a closer look at the software developers might provide some clues about responsible cultures of innovation. “If you really want to know how to create a sense of responsibility, [...]

Climategate, or, how science works

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on November 25th, 2009

“Science advances, funeral by funeral.” (often attributed to Timothy Ferris) The blogosphere has been abuzz over the past week or so with the release of data — emails and program source and documentation — from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, one of the premier climatology research institutions in the world. [...]

Reynolds advocates faster nano/AI R&D for safety reasons

Posted by Christine Peterson on November 19th, 2009

In Popular Mechanics, longtime Foresight friend Prof. Glenn Reynolds looks at the future of nanotech and artificial intelligence, among other things looking at safety issues, including one call that potentially dangerous technologies be relinquished.  He takes a counterintuitive stance, which we’ve discussed here at Foresight over the years: But I wonder if that’s such a [...]

Superhuman Psychopaths

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on August 22nd, 2009

The usually reliable Michael Anissimov has claimed that I seem to think that “superintelligence will automatically acquire a favorable morality without any real work.”  Now I’m not all that sensitive about such things; but it bothers me that SIAI, of all people, should fail to understand the basic parameters of the problem, and thus have [...]

Moral Railroads

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on June 25th, 2009

Over at the Moral Machines blog, there’s a pointer to an AP story about the recent DC train crash: Investigators looking into the deadly crash of two Metro transit trains focused Tuesday on why a computerized system failed to halt an oncoming train, and why the train failed to stop even though the emergency brake [...]

Acolytes of neo-Malthusian Apocalypticism

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 8th, 2009

When I was in college 35 years ago, there was a major fad of neo-Malthusian doom-mongering, led by the “Limits to Growth” book and movement. A retreat was organized from the college, and some concerned, environmentally conscious professors and students, myself included, went off for a concentrated seminar in which we educated each other about [...]

Replicating nanofactories redux

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 4th, 2009

Over at Accelerating Future, Michael Anissimov continues the discussion about nanofactories. He says a number of reasonable things, but then mischaracterizes, or at least greatly oversimplifies, Foresight’s position on nanofactories and self-replicating machines in general: The general implied position of the Foresight Institute appears to be, “we’ll figure these things out as we go, MNT [...]

Promise of nanotechnology for fighting infectious diseases will balance public’s safety concerns

Posted by Jim Lewis on April 3rd, 2009

A Newsdesk feature by Kelly Morris titled “Nanotechnology crucial in fighting infectious disease” in the April 2009 issue of Lancet Infectious Diseases surveys some highlights in developing nanotech efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious diseases. Examples include detecting disease through lab-on-a-chip technology featuring cantilevers that move upon binding antigens and nanowires that detect current [...]

Conference to tackle ethics of nanotechnology and human enhancement

Posted by Jim Lewis on March 25th, 2009

Conference to tackle what they claim is “the single most important issue in science & society in this century.”

Parricide

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on February 11th, 2009

Once upon a time, or so the story goes, there was a young man who was hauled up before the court on charges that he had killed his father and mother. He readily confessed to the crime, but nevertheless pled for clemency: after all, he pointed out, he was an orphan. Recently on his blog [...]

Civil nanotechnology: Open source sensing in Seed magazine

Posted by Christine Peterson on January 16th, 2009

From the February 2009 issue of the “science is culture” publication Seed magazine, not yet online: Hypothesis: Civil Nanotechnology Starting in 2009, nanotech-based sensing will enable a level of environmental monitoring that could help reduce pollution tremendously. Such devices could be of immense benefit to the environment, but unfortunately, without careful attention they will trigger [...]

Public approval for using nanotechnology for human enhancement limited to improving health

Posted by Jim Lewis on November 17th, 2008

Recently announced results of a US national survey on nanotech applications for “human enhancement” show widespread public support for enhancements seen as promising an improvement in human health, but little support for other uses.

Postdoctoral associate sought to conduct research on the social and ethical implications of nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on September 30th, 2008

An announcement of an open position from the Cornell Nanoscale Science and Technology Facility: Successful candidates will have a Ph.D. in communication, science and technology studies, or closely aligned social scientific field. Research experience and knowledge of social and ethical issues of science, preferably nanotechnology, is preferred. For the complete announcement:

US citizens weigh in on nanotechnology for human enhancement

Posted by Jim Lewis on August 19th, 2008

The Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University is one of two centers funded by the National Science Foundation to study nanotechnology in society. One of their tools for studying the impact of nanotech upon society is the National Citizens’ Technology Forum (NCTF). They have recently published the results of their National Citizens’ [...]

National Citizen’s Technology Forum held on nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on May 9th, 2008

A while back Senior Associate Stuart Scott let us know that he had been selected to participate in a National Citizen’s Technology Forum process on nanotechnology, sponsored by Arizona State and University of North Carolina, among other schools. Presumably this is funded by the social science budget of the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative, via NSF. [...]

Nanodot readers invited to create/edit nano-scenarios

Posted by Christine Peterson on May 8th, 2008

We’ve received an invitation to participate in the Center for Nanotechnology in Society’s project to build and critique nanotechnology scenarios. Current topics to edit in the wiki, or you can add your own: * Barless Prisons * Bionic Eyes * Living with a Brain Chip * Disease Detector * Automated Sewer Surveillance * Engineered Tissues

LA Times features nanotechnology debate

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 27th, 2008

All this week, NanoBusiness Vice President Aatish Salvi debates nanotechnology with the Center for Technology Assessment’s George Kimbrell over at the LA Times online. An excerpt from the former: Realizing the benefits of nanotechnology will take time. That should come as no surprise. Nanotech is trying to solve some of the hardest and most meaningful [...]

European Commission adopts Code of Conduct for Responsible Nanotechnology

Posted by Jim Lewis on February 18th, 2008

After several months of public consultation, the European Commission has announced a Code of Conduct for Responsible Nanosciences and Nanotechnologies Research.

U.S. seen as more open to nanotechnology than Europe

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 12th, 2008

Reason magazine, which generally takes positions in favor of technology and free enterprise, has a cover story on nanotechnology (full text not posted yet, check link later) which speculates that the U.S. may be more open to nanotech than Europe: In the U.S., despite our flirtation with paranoia about biotech and our routine panics over [...]