Two days ago, Wednesday, December 7, I gave a talk at Yale University's Institute for Social and Policy Studies. My subject was "Transforming Society: Ethical Issues in the Nanotech Revolution," and my presentation was addressed to Yale's Technology and Ethics Working Research Group, an interdisciplinary affiliation of faculty, students, and community members.
A unique feature of this opportunity was its length. The format allows for about 90 minutes of lecture and discussion, followed by a brief break for dinner (delivered to the site), and then more informal discussion.
With almost three hours to approach a topic, the presenter and group are able to explore it in some depth. Still, at the end several people said to me -- and I agreed -- that we had barely scratched the surface of the serious issues surrounding advanced nanotechnology.
The Tech Ethics bunch is just one of many similar groups that meet regularly at Yale to discuss the big issues of today and tomorrow. Others include:
Bioethicist-in-Residence Reading Groups
Disability and Bioethics
Genetically Modified Plants
Perspectives on Aging
Religious and Spiritual Issues in Bioethics
Rights of Children
Risk Assessment Forum
Is there anything like this remarkable program at any other U.S. university? If not, there should be.
Much credit must go to Margaret Farley, Robert Levine, Carol Pollard, Bonnie Kaplan, Nick Bostrom, and many others who built and maintain the organization. I'm also grateful to Wendell Wallach, who invited me and coordinated my visit.