In August 2005, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology announced the formation of a Global Task Force convened to study the societal implications of this rapidly emerging technology. Bringing together a diverse group of world-class experts from multiple disciplines, CRN is spearheading an historic, collaborative effort to develop comprehensive recommendations for the safe and responsible use of nanotechnology.
Many of the profound implications of molecular manufacturing (MM) are explored in an initial collection of 11 new essays, all written by members of the CRN Task Force and published in the March 27 issue of Nanotechnology Perceptions. From military and security issues to human enhancement, artificial intelligence, and more, these articles take a look under the lid of Pandora's box to see what the future might hold. A second collection of essays exploring additional concerns will form the next issue of Nanotechnology Perceptions.
Here is a brief description of the initial set of articles:
Reacting to the huge risks of MM, some advocate that all research be halted. Our first two essays, "Nanotechnology Dangers and Defenses" by inventor and author Ray Kurzweil and "Molecular Manufacturing: Too Dangerous to Allow?" by Nanomedicine author Robert A. Freitas Jr., explore these issues. They survey the dangers, discuss ways to mitigate them, and analyze the weaknesses of relinquishment.
"Nano-Guns, Nano-Germs, and Nano-Steel," an essay by Mike Treder, explores the troubling topic of nanotech-enabled warfare. Tom Cowper, an expert in policing and criminology, offers his special perspective in "Molecular Manufacturing and 21st Century Policing." In "The Need For Limits," Chris Phoenix explains that we may face unprecedented risks as MM’s revolutionary potential dissolves the barriers that keep us safe.
After Giulio Prisco explores the real-world challenge of "Globalization and Open Source Nano Economy," Damien Broderick provides a broad historical perspective of the relationship between society and technology in "Cultural Dominants and Differential MNT Uptake."
Advanced nanotechnology could go well beyond making better consumer goods and better weapons. In "Nanoethics and Human Enhancement," professional ethicists Patrick Lin and Fritz Allhoff look into the controversial aspects of using MM to change our bodies and minds. Noted futurist Natasha Vita-More then lays out the problems our grey matter could face in "Strategic Sustainable Brain."
Computers built by nanofactories may be millions of times more powerful than anything we have today. The potential for creating world-changing artificial intelligence is examined by scientist J. Storrs Hall in "Is AI Near a Takeoff Point?" Finally, if some of our worst scenarios become real, we may face truly existential dilemmas. These are surveyed in depth by best-selling author David Brin in "Singularities and Nightmares: The Range of Our Futures."
As editors of the essays, we will be pleased if you are entertained and informed. But we will be further gratified if you are inspired to learn more. We hope you'll want to get involved in the vital work of raising awareness and finding effective solutions to the challenges presented to the world by advanced nanotechnology.
Mike Treder, CRN Executive Director
Chris Phoenix, CRN Director of Research
Note: The opinions expressed in these essays are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, nor of its parent organization, World Care.