We mentioned in early March that a study team at Arizona State University would collaborate with CRN on exploring legal and governmental questions that may arise from the advent of exponential general-purpose molecular manufacturing. The group has now outlined their research agenda and produced an abstract describing their focus:
Transnational Regulatory Models for Molecular Nanotechnology
As Fenyman’s dream of atomically precise molecular machine systems created from the bottom up becomes more real, the geopolitical pressure to regulate nanotechnology will increase. Many nanotechnology advances are likely to present what the National Academy of Sciences recently referred to as the "dual use dilemma" in that they have potential for both beneficial and destructive applications. Potential regulatory models for molecular nanotechnology, particularly at the international level, will benefit from an examination of the successes and failures of prior efforts to regulate dual use technologies. This presentation explores regulatory models with respect to the unique issues raised by molecular nanotechnology. The presentation presents international regulatory precedents, draws analogies, describes the strengths and weaknesses of past applications, considers how molecular nanotechnology may be different, and explores the usefulness of the model as applied to nanotechnology. Specifically, the presentation will describe and evaluate multilateral regulations (e.g., Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Anti-Satellite/ABM Treaty, etc.), multilateral prohibitions (e.g., human reproductive cloning, precautionary principle, etc.), joint development agreements (e.g., outer space treaty, International Atomic Energy Agency, Maritime law, etc.), information secrecy (e.g., export control, restrictions on scientific publication, etc.), control of technology via intellectual property and licensing (e.g., TRIPS, DMCA/DVD descrambling code, etc.), funding and financial incentive programs (e.g., government funded research, research prizes, etc.), and industry and government guidelines/codes of conduct (e.g., UN environmental codes, Foresight Institute guidelines, etc.).
This is a project of Gary E. Marchant, Ph.D., Jonathan Swartz, and Michael Volk at ASU's Center for the Study of Law, Science & Technology. We're delighted with this effort and look forward to seeing the results. Thanks, team!