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Nanotechnology ethics book is surprisingly fun

“Fun” is not the first word that comes to mind when the topic of ethics comes up, but the new book Nanoethics: the Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology manages to include a surprising amount of it.

Topics include the end of biological aging, body enhancement, privacy, military use, exponential manufacturing, space development, AI, and life extension, among many others.

Foresight readers may recognize many participants in the volume, including — in order of appearance — Patrick Lin (co-editor), Bill Joy, Ray Kurzweil, myself, Jacob Heller (Foresight policy associate, who did all the real work on the piece attributed to the two of us), Richard Jones, Tom Kalil, Nick Bostrom, Robert Freitas, David Guston, James Hughes, David Berube, Mike Treder, Chris Phoenix, and Josh Hall.

Jacob Heller and I were asked by Patrick Lin to write about the potential benefits of nanotech: a fun job in itself. An excerpt:

In the long term, nanotechnology could make our water technology work more like biological purification systems. Nanomachines could be designed to work like kidneys, selectively choosing which materials they will keep in the water and which they will discard. In this way, they could “seek and destroy” molecules unsafe for consumption. If made cheap enough, they could be utilized in water sources used by poor people, making inexpensive and decentralized water purification a reality.

Jacob also covered energy, health and longevity, helping the environment, improved computing, and space development: the Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges.

From Wiley Interscience, the paperback is US$39.95; hardcover $89.95. Worth it for those who track these topics. —Christine

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