Nanotechnology is such a complex scientific novelty that it doesn’t offer simple answers to the many questions that surround its development. Whilst scientists are still struggling to find a proper definition for nanotechnology, the complexity of nanotechnology makes arguing about its obvious and non‐obvious risks and benefits a difficult task.

Among the many questions that surround nanotechnology, which focus on topics such as risks and benefits, health and societal implications as well as regulatory issues, there are many myths about the science that are raised continuously by a range of institutions (media, political, scientific) and individuals. While nanotechnology applications and products can be highly beneficial and are able to solve many human problems and also benefit the environment, there is considerable uncertainty about the risks that will be taken in the development of such innovation, particularly related to the toxicology of nanoparticles.

Furthermore there are essential discussions about the form and type of regulation that nanotechnology should entail. For instance, "Grey goo" is not some Drexlerian futurological fiction, but could become a reality, if nanotechnology gets into the hands of extremist groups.

Thus, constructive discussions about a creative, sensitive and, yet, effective regulation of nanotechnology is crucial at this stage. These must include aspects like poverty, economic prosperity, "nano for all" (including developing countries) who benefits from this new technology, military use of nanotechnology and environmental issues.

This paper will address issues of public engagement with nanotechnology, including chances for advancing science communication to communicate science, thus nanotechnology, more effectively and to make scientific advances more transparen and understandable for a lay community.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Upstream engagement and nanotechnology

Bettina Hoermann   University of the West of Scotland

Nanotechnology is such a complex scientific novelty that it doesn’t offer simple answers to the many questions that surround its development. Whilst scientists are still struggling to find a proper definition for nanotechnology, the complexity of nanotechnology makes arguing about its obvious and non‐obvious risks and benefits a difficult task.

Among the many questions that surround nanotechnology, which focus on topics such as risks and benefits, health and societal implications as well as regulatory issues, there are many myths about the science that are raised continuously by a range of institutions (media, political, scientific) and individuals. While nanotechnology applications and products can be highly beneficial and are able to solve many human problems and also benefit the environment, there is considerable uncertainty about the risks that will be taken in the development of such innovation, particularly related to the toxicology of nanoparticles.

Furthermore there are essential discussions about the form and type of regulation that nanotechnology should entail. For instance, "Grey goo" is not some Drexlerian futurological fiction, but could become a reality, if nanotechnology gets into the hands of extremist groups.

Thus, constructive discussions about a creative, sensitive and, yet, effective regulation of nanotechnology is crucial at this stage. These must include aspects like poverty, economic prosperity, "nano for all" (including developing countries) who benefits from this new technology, military use of nanotechnology and environmental issues.

This paper will address issues of public engagement with nanotechnology, including chances for advancing science communication to communicate science, thus nanotechnology, more effectively and to make scientific advances more transparen and understandable for a lay community.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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