When molecular nanotechnology manufacturing develops to the point that wonderful benefits are available to people -- who will those people be? Will it be everyone? Or will it only be the rich and powerful? How can we find out?
One way to estimate who might receive those benefits is to look at who has access today to other new and initially expensive tech/science developments. Let's take, for example, AIDS drugs.
According to an article at Global Policy Forum: "Of the roughly 30 million Africans with HIV, 4.1 million need antiretroviral drugs, yet only 50,000-75,000 have access to them."
That's not good.
Let's see...if 62,500 (the median between 50,000 and 75,000) out of 4.1 million have access to the medicine they need, then perhaps we can extrapolate that out of 1.3 billion Africans (estimated population circa 2020), only 20 million will have access to nanotech, leaving, um, 1.3 billion without.
That's also not good.
In related news:
A coalition of organizations with a hand in global health matters announced an agreement last week to assist developing countries in purchasing low-cost generic HIV/AIDS drugs and diagnostics. The plan -- viewed as a slap to the Bush Administration -- is based on pricing deals with generic drug and diagnostics manufacturers brokered late last year by the William J. Clinton Foundation.
So what can we expect when nanotech leads to great breakthroughs in health care or other benefits? Will cheap access be made available to all, especially to those who most need it? If the preceding reports are any indication, it may be an uphill battle.