A new study finds that the majority of Americans still know little to nothing about nanotechnology.
The good news: 10% have heard a lot, and 20% have heard some. This is said to be almost twice the numbers from 2004.
The bad news: 42% "have no awareness of it at all."
Of course, this is the early, less powerful, more broadly defined kind of nanotech: the kind that includes anything sufficiently small and fundable; the kind that puts nanoparticles in sunscreen and makes your computer chips run faster.
Awareness of molecular manufacturing is surely trailing by a wide margin. A quick Google test shows that "nanotechnology" shows up on about 26,000,000 webpages, while the phrases "molecular manufacturing" and "molecular nanotechnology" show up on about 340,000 webpages. A bit over 1%.
This drives the point home once again: even though the public are key stakeholders in molecular manufacturing, they are unlikely to be engaged in decision-making. This means that other organizations will have free rein to make things happen--for better or worse--without public feedback. There are models such as Danish Technology Councils for getting feedback from a typical-but-educated sample of a group, but this requires proactive effort on someone's part. And it seems safe to say that any strategy requiring large-scale public action or even awareness will be infeasible without a massive amount of work.