Our mission at CRN is to raise awareness of the issues presented by advanced nanotechnology -- the benefits, the dangers, and the possibilities for responsible use. But it's not enough just to identify problems. We are committed to finding solutions and promoting their implementation.
In line with this effort, we have identified several areas of interest for specific action:
Human conflict is as old as the human race. But as technology develops ever more powerful and devastating weaponry, the cost in lives and suffering becomes intolerable. The threat of global thermonuclear war has hung over us now for half a century; as frightening as that prospect is, new weapons created by molecular manufacturing could be even more destructive and deadly. CRN conducts research into ways to restrict production of such weapons and limit the peril of an unstable arms race between competing powers.
The potential humanitarian benefits of molecular manufacturing are nearly incalculable. Liberal distribution of nanofactories could lead to enormous reductions in the human devastation caused by poverty, malnutrition, starvation, homelessness, disease, and illiteracy. CRN believes that humans everywhere have the right to the basic necessities of life. But without wise administration of the technology, millions of people who might otherwise benefit could be denied these rights. In addition, powerful new tools of surveillance and control may be developed and used by repressive governments. CRN researches, analyzes, and promotes policies for protection and expansion of human rights in the context of widespread nanotechnology deployment.
It has been said that nanotechnology could have an impact on the global economy equal to or greater than the Industrial Revolution, but occurring over the space of months rather than decades. Literally trillions of dollars are at stake. CRN believes it is possible for all to benefit, that nations and peoples in previously disadvantaged areas of the world may gain the opportunity to compete and enjoy the fruits of economic equality. But equally possible is that a few leading countries and powerful corporations could reap a wildly disproportionate share of the gains, which could in turn lead to a black market in bootleg, unsafe nanotech. CRN conducts research into the potential socio-economic impacts of molecular manufacturing and recommends policies for fair and just development.
Nanofactory technology, if made widely available, could have a tremendous positive impact on the environment. Nearly any product could be manufactured in any location for about $1 per pound. Imagine a world with no more industrial pollution, no more non-recycled packaging, and no more fossil fuel wasted in transporting products. New tools of unprecedented effectiveness could be used for cleaning up toxic waste, water supplies, even the atmosphere. But there are also possible risks, such as pollution from massive numbers of small products. CRN studies the pros and the cons of molecular manufacturing and advances effective solutions.
The purpose of CRN is to investigate the effective use of molecular manufacturing, and to educate those who will influence its use, or be affected by it. Since almost everyone will be affected someday by this new technology, CRN plans to develop educational materials for distribution to teachers, schools, and libraries. In addition, we endeavor to educate journalists, business leaders, and policy makers about the serious choices to be made in the coming years.