An impressive group of luminaries will gather to debate the question:
Nanotechnology — Radical New Science or Plus Ça Change?
Confirmed members of the debate panel:
* Prof. Richard Jones, University of Sheffield and author of Soft Machines
* Dr. John Storrs Hall, Chief Scientist of Nanorex Inc and author of Nanofuture: What's Next for Nanotechnology?
* Jack Stilgoe, a researcher at the Demos thinktank and an investigator on an ESRC-funded project entitled "Nanotechnology and Public Engagement"
* Dr. David Forrest, President, Institute of Molecular Manufacturing
* Prof. Saul Tendler, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham
The focus of the debate will be an examination of the short-term and long-term potential of nanotechnology and its associated possible societal and ethical impacts:
- Are nanofactories capable of manufacturing virtually anything with little or no environmental impact really just a few decades away, as some groups are claiming?
- Is nanotechnology based on scaled-down everyday engineering concepts viable or should we look to biology for insights into how to tame the nanoworld?
- Are there potential risks associated with the manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular levels and how might those risks be controlled?
- Or, is nanotechnology simply a buzzword for science which, far from being a radical departure from what has gone before, simply represents a natural convergence of the conventional disciplines...
For those of you who, like me, are Gallicly challenged, Plus Ça Change? refers to the (originally French) saying: "The more things change, the more they stay the same." I assume this is intended to suggest that advanced nanotechnology may not bring transformative change, but merely incremental advances.
CRN's answers to the proposed debate questions might be: Almost certainly, Both, Of course, and Definitely not. It will be interesting to see whether any consensus emerges from this event that is contrary to our positions.