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Archive for the 'Economics' Category

Singularity, part 1

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on February 10th, 2009

This the first essay in a series exploring if, when, and how the Singularity will happen, why (or why not) we should care, and what, if anything, we should do about it. Part I: The Singularity and its Discontents The concept of the Technological Singularity is so clearly part of the zeitgeist that it surely [...]

Insurance industry looking for more data on nanotechnology risks

Posted by Jim Lewis on January 26th, 2009

Last September we wrote that one insurer would “no longer insure against bodily injury, property damage, or personal and advertising injury related to the actual, alleged, or threatened presence of or exposure to nanotubes or nanotechnology in any form.” Now Christine Peterson passes along this item from Rhitu Chatterjee writing in the American Chemical Society [...]

The weather machine

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on December 23rd, 2008

The following is an edited and revised version of the talk I gave at the Global Catastrophic Risks conference that was held in conjunction with Convergence 08 (and which I reprised for Convergence). I’m posting it here because it seems to me that this is exactly the kind of thing Foresight was founded for: to [...]

Is the patent system stifling nanotechnology?

Posted by Jim Lewis on October 14th, 2008

Will “blocking patents” delay nanotech advances, as has happened with biotechmedical advances?

One Insurer Excludes Nanotechnology from Policies

Posted by Jim Lewis on September 30th, 2008

Christine Peterson passes along this item from a recent (September 25, 2008) NanoBusiness Alliance Newsletter: Insurer Excludes Nanotechnology from Policies Beginning November 15, the Continental Western Insurance Group will no longer insure against bodily injury, property damage, or personal and advertising injury related to the actual, alleged, or threatened presence of or exposure to nanotubes [...]

Peter Thiel on technology and globalization

Posted by Christine Peterson on March 25th, 2008

Those of you who have heard Peter Thiel speak (at the Singularity Summits and a while back at Foresight’s Senior Associates Gathering) already know that he is quite a visionary. In Hoover’s Feb/Mar 2008 Policy Review, Peter presents The Optimistic Thought Experiment, his thoughts on globalization and technology. Some excerpts: For every account of globalization [...]

Lloyds of London takes on nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on December 12th, 2007

The reinsurance firm Swiss Re is rather farther along on nanotechnology, but Lloyd’s of London is starting to step up to the question of how to insure nanotech. They had a recent conference to launch their new report Nanotechnology: Recent Developments, Risks and Opportunities (PDF). As one would expect, it mainly focuses on nanoparticles, but [...]

Israel competes for nanotechnology philanthropy

Posted by Christine Peterson on December 3rd, 2007

Everyone is pursuing private donors for their nanotechnology research, and Israel is very serious about it, matching private nanotech fund donations made from outside the country, as reported in EE Times: The country’s nanotechnology program, called the Israel National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI) provides 3-to-1 matching funds for all private donations to nanotech centers, effectively producing [...]

Patent office arms race will hurt nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 17th, 2007

There’s an arms race between government patent offices and patent filers assisted by private law firms. The folks who work for the former get paid a lot less than the those who work for the latter. This leads to a continual drain away from government review of patent applications toward private generation of patent applications. [...]

Patent Reform Act to aid nanotechnology?

Posted by Christine Peterson on June 22nd, 2007

Today’s San Jose Mercury News — the newspaper of Silicon Valley — features a guest editorial by Wirt Cook, IBM vice president and senior state executive, on the proposed Patent Reform Act, titled “Patent Reform Act best way to protect, foster innovation”: Berman’s bill will enable private-citizen-experts to help patent examiners research the novelty of [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

Nanotechnology alleged to aid patriarchy

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 15th, 2007

We mentioned earlier the Harvard Business Review list of Breakthrough Ideas for 2007. Nanotechnology shows up again in another idea on the list — this one rather more controversial. Phillip Longman observes that falling birthrates lead, over time, to an increase in families with more conservative values, because they reproduce more. Seems plausible. He then [...]

Nanotechnology: Just-in-time nanomanufacturing at home

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 8th, 2007

The Harvard Business Review has named its top 20 Breakthrough Ideas for 2007, and home-based, atomically-precise manufacturing makes the list. Business in the Nanocosm, by UC Berkeley business prof Rashi Glazer, does a good job of conveying the future of home-based nanomanufacturing. Excerpts: Conventional manufacturing carves or distills a purpose-suited device from a mass of [...]

China rapidly gaining in nanotechnology competition

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 7th, 2007

In case you missed the China webcast by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, here’s a short summary from IT Week by Clement James: China bets big on nanotech Country takes aim at $3 trillion global market in nanotech products Nanotechnology is key to the future economic success [...]

Helping poor countries with nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on November 28th, 2006

Foresight members and others would like to find ways to use nanotechnology to help those who need help the most. It’s a challenge, as described more generally by Nancy Birdsall, Dani Rodrik, and Arvind Subramanian, writing in Foreign Affairs. They suggest a solution, which ought to work for nanotech as well as medical technologies: Wealthy [...]

Nanotechnology patent delays bad for (almost) everyone

Posted by Christine Peterson on November 27th, 2006

A story by Jon Van describes the growing backlog of nanotechnology patent applications: As the time it takes to process patent applications now averages almost four years, double the time it took in 2004, nanotech entrepreneurs are beginning to worry that their ability to raise money to develop products may be stifled. It’s not just [...]

Nanotechnology competition: India vs. Singapore

Posted by Christine Peterson on November 3rd, 2006

Here’s a nanotech news item from the Financial Express (India) that shows the challenge that developing countries such as India face in their efforts to leapfrog over intermediate levels of technology directly to operating right at the cutting edge: Indian nanotech firm to move to Singapore Singapore, November 1: Bangalore-based nanotechnology firm Qtech Nanosystems has [...]