More and more frequently, we are seeing articles about the "promise and peril" of nanotechnology. It's generally a good thing that these concepts are reaching greater numbers of people. Part of CRN's mission is "to raise awareness of the issues presented by nanotechnology: the benefits and dangers, and the possibilities for responsible use."
So, awareness is good. Getting nanotech beyond science journals and into public discourse is good. Focus on implications -- for society, economics, the environment, or world peace -- is good.
Not everyone agrees, of course, that all the developments enabled by advanced nanotechnology will be good. One such person is Christopher Hook of the Mayo Clinic. In an article posted today at the Always-On website, Hook begins:
Eradicate cancer. Retain and recall everything you can find on the Internet. Give your child a high IQ. Drastically reduce fatalities of U.S. soldiers involved in wars. Give sight to the blind. Soon, you won't have to be God to fulfill this wish list. But you may not be human, either. Such is the promise and peril of nanotechnology.
Hook's commentary focuses primarily on biological augmentation. He argues strongly against, for example, the U.S. National Science Foundation's emphasis on NBIC -- the convergence of Nanotech, Biotech, Infotech, and Cognitive science -- and their vision of enhanced humanity.
CRN urges wide investigation into all the implications of these emerging technologies. We hope, however, that debate over "human dignity" will not cloud the other issues, and that rejection of some elements by some quarters will not enlarge into a denial of benefits for all who want them.