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

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. From North Carolina State University, via AAAS EurekAlert “Survey highlights support for nanotech in health fields but disapproval elsewhere

A landmark national survey on the use of nanotechnology for “human enhancement” shows widespread public support for applications of the new technology related to improving human health. However, the survey also shows broad disapproval for nanotech human enhancement research in areas without health benefits. A team of researchers at North Carolina State University and Arizona State University (ASU) conducted the study, which could influence the direction of future nanotechnology research efforts.

The “Public Awareness of Nanotechnology Study” is the first nationally representative survey to examine public opinion on the use of nanotechnology for human enhancement. The survey found significant support for enhancements that promise to improve human health. For example, 88 percent of participants were in favor of research for a video-to-brain link that would amount to artificial eyesight for the blind. However, there was little support for non-health research endeavors. For example, only 30 percent of participants approved of research into implants that could improve performance of soldiers on the battlefield.

…NC State’s Dr. Michael Cobb, one of the leaders of the study, says the survey’s findings are important because “what the public wants could drive the direction of future research.” Cobb, an associate professor of political science, explains, “The public should have input into where the government invests its research funding.” Dr. Clark Miller, an associate professor of political science at ASU and another leader of the survey, adds, “One of the most important findings is the difference in support for different applications of human enhancement. Research and public policies will need to reflect this differentiated view, recognizing that there are some applications the public supports and some that the public is quite skeptical of.”

I find it encouraging that the public strongly supports nanotechnology for improving health, but I find myself skeptical that public disapproval of military uses of human enhancement will deter the military from making such investments, especially once they argue that we need to give our soldiers every battlefield advantage possible. In the unlikely event the US military were constrained from using such technologies, it seems to me very unlikely that other military establishments worldwide would be similarly constrained.
—Jim

8 Responses to “Public approval for using nanotechnology for human enhancement limited to improving health”

  1. Natasha Bell Says:

    This is basically coorporating all the elements of the production of nanotechnology and its main functions. Well written Jade, and the prduction in the workforce is sure to go upwards from now on. With the offer from the government to produce suitable army clothes using the basic elements of nanotechnology, the economy is certain to skyrocket. Thankyou.

  2. Jaquie Sharp Says:

    True, true Natasha Bell. I agree with the aspects of the rise nanotechnology will make to this counrty, and how it may boost the economys sales throughout the business world. Good luck with future research doctor.

  3. Nanoman Says:

    There is an idea called “Safe Tech”. This is where a society takes the benefits from a technology such as nanotech, such as nano factories, and some medical devices, and computers but limits extreme body enhancements, genetic engineering, and so on and so forth, because of the claims of inherent dangers.

  4. KentB Says:

    Ultimately, the technology will force the market to change, not the other way around. Let’s say that the US outlaws intelligence-enhancing nanotech. Whoever else in the world decides to use it will not just be a little ahead, but very far ahead in technological development, basic and applied science, etc. It will be situation of change or be left very far behind.

  5. vincent christian Says:

    @ Kent

    I agree with you that emerging technology will force the market to change. However—lets not forget the other forces that inevitably force markets to change, e.g. (Economic, Political, Legal, etc), just to name a few. As a society, I feel we should be open to all possibilities in the name of human enhancement and ultimately improving the health of society at large.

  6. Peter D Says:

    In reference to the last sentence in the report above, “In the unlikely event the US military were constrained from using such technologies, it seems to me very unlikely that other military establishments worldwide would be similarly constrained”, this implies that if our military and government forge ahead with nanotechnology we should forbid our adversaries from developing their own. This could be yet another “global police” role not unlike our efforts to forbid other countries from having nuclear capabilities. I think nanotechnology alone shows a lot of promise for the benefit of mankind. I am just saddened that this could become another reason for us to stick our noses into someone else’s business.

  7. Dan Claybor Says:

    Although I agree that nanotechnology will , in theory; improve health and ultimately human enhancement, it will take a very long time for society to see the tangible results. In the meantime there are additional measure we can take to improve health & human enhancement such as being more mindful of global warming, fixing our educational system—(going to college is becoming unaffordable); perhaps taxing “Fast Food” like we tax alcohol and tobacco, and lastly; change our tax structure. Right now, the middle class pays the highest tax rate on a percentage basis in the U.S.. and as a result; the middle class in America is slowly disappearing. The Public needs more of a voice in where our government spends our tax dollars in the name of health and human enhancement!

  8. sarah Says:

    I agree with you, Vincent Christian when you say ” As a society, I feel we should be open to all possibilities in the name of human enhancement and ultimately improving the health of society at large”. I have recently returned from a yoga retreat in Spain Culturally Spain are generally backing nanotechnology, with an open mind regarding developments in healthcare.

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