Some recent commenters have noted that entries on this blog sometimes stray from the immediate topic of 'Responsible Nanotechnology'.
For example, Dan S. says:
I've got an impression that these days CRN is more concerned with problems of climate change, privacy, China, nuclear power, etc. rather then safe administration/development of molecular manufacturing.
There are a couple of explanations for this. One is that after years of writing articles on a fairly narrow range of subjects, it's hard to resist the temptation to occasionally throw in something different, like this, or this.
But a more substantive explanation has to do with how we are, over time, coming to see that the issues CRN is nominally concerned with are inextricably linked with a wide range of other topics.
Molecular manufacturing will not be developed in a vacuum, nor will it emerge unhindered into a welcoming world.
How, when, or even whether desktop nanofactories are finally produced will depend largely on external factors that have little or nothing to do with nanotech. This is a big drive behind our efforts to create a series of professional-quality scenarios about the near-future development of molecular manufacturing within the context of projected trends in science, technology, and global politics.
The task of designing effective policy toward safe development and responsible use of advanced nanotechnology is both highly complex and vitally important. A broad base of knowledge is required for that, including as good an understanding as we can get of the rapidly changing social, economic, and political systems that atomically-precise exponential manufacturing eventually will encounter. Those new conditions must be taken into account, because the world of circa 2020 is expected to be vastly different from 2007 -- and in developing responsible global solutions, context is everything.
Jamais Cascio, CRN's new Director of Impacts Analysis, recently wrote a column for Nanotechnology Now that tackled a whole set of issues beyond the purely technical. He considered:
- Distribution methods for nanofactories
- Distribution methods for products
- Distribution methods for "toner"
- Physical reliability
- Physical safety
- Health and safety evaluations
- Knowledgeable users
- Ways to avoid abuse
- Political support
- Economic support
- Market acceptance
And that's just one circle of expansion outward from CRN's earlier concerns.
Expect to see much more of this -- including discussions of climate change, privacy, China, etc. -- as we strive to understand the world that awaits the development of desktop nanofactories. We'll try to relate those explorations as clearly as we can to the basic mission of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology, but remember, we're on a journey here, a journey together into mostly unknown territory.