Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology

Final Report from the Workshop held at the National Science Foundation, Sept. 28-29, 2000 (complete report; 2.5 MB; Adobe Acrobat-PDF-format).

This report was prepared under the guidance of NSET. Any opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Government. Copyrights reserved by individual authors or their assignees except as noted herein. Reproduced by permission. The U.S. Government retains a nonexclusive and nontransferable license to all exclusive rights provided by copyright. This work relates to NSF Cooperative Agreement ENG-9707092, awarded to the International Technology Research Institute at Loyola College, World Technology (WTEC) Division. Hard copies of the report will be printed by Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (front matter and executive summary: nanosi-es.pdf)

1. INTRODUCTION National Nanotechnology Initiative .............................................................................. 1 NSET Workshop on "Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology"..................................................................................................... 2

2. NANOTECHNOLOGY GOALS................................................................................. 3 Knowledge and Scientific Understanding of Nature .................................................... 4 Industrial Manufacturing, Materials and Products........................................................ 5 Medicine and the Human Body..................................................................................... 5 Sustainability: Agriculture, Water, Energy, Materials, and Clean Environment.......... 6 Space Exploration ......................................................................................................... 8 National Security........................................................................................................... 8 Moving into the Market ................................................................................................ 9

3. NANOTECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETAL INTERACTIONS............................... 10 The Interactive Process of Innovation and Diffusion.................................................. 10 Unintended and Second-order Consequences............................................................. 10 Ethical Issues and Public Involvement in Decision Making....................................... 12 Education of Nanoscientists, Nanotechnologists, and Nanofabrication Technicians ........................................................................................................... 13 Education of Social Scientists ..................................................................................... 13

4. SOCIAL SCIENCE APPROACHES FOR ASSESSING NANOTECHNOLOGY'S IMPLICATIONS......................................................... 14 Social Science Research Approaches and Methodologies.......................................... 14 Institutional Infrastructure for Societal Implications Research................................... 15

5. RECOMMENDATIONS............................................................................................ 16 Other Measures ........................................................................................................... 17 Specific Areas for Research and Education Investment ............................................. 17 Recommendations to Organizations ........................................................................... 18 With an Eye to the Future ........................................................................................... 19

6. STATEMENTS ON SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS................................................ 20 6.1 Overviews National Nanotechnology Initiative (T. Kalil - transcript) ....................................... 20 The Age of Transitions (N. Gingrich)......................................................................... 23 Technological Implications of Nanotechnology: Why the Future Needs Us (J. Armstrong) ....................................................................................................... 28 Don't Count Society Out - A Response to Bill Joy (J.S. Brown)................................ 30 National Needs Drivers for Nanotechnology (G. Yonas and T. Picraux)................... 37 Nanotechnology and Societal Transformation (M.M. Crow and D. Sarewitz)........... 45

6.2 Focus on Economic and Political Implications of Potential Technology Impact of Nanotechnology on the Chemical and Automotive Industries (J.M. Garces and M.C. Cornell) ..................................................................................... 55


The meeting was co-sponsored by the National Science Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET). Co-chairs of the workshop were Mike Roco (Chair; NSTC's Subcommittee on Nanoscience, Engineering and Technology; and NSF; mroco@nsf.gov, http://nano.gov) and William Bainbridge (Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences; NSF; wbainbri@nsf.gov). The WTEC organizer was Geoff Holdridge (Director of WTEC, Loyola College in Maryland, gholdrid@itri.loyola.edu).


Agenda

Workshop objectives

  1. Comparative survey of the current studies on societal implications (knowledge and education, technological, economic, medical, environmental, cultural, ethical, legal, cultural, risks, etc.) of advances in nanoscience and technology at nanoscale.
  2. Investigative and assessment methods for societal implication studies.
  3. Vision and alternative pathways for the future: in short (3-5 years), medium (5-15 years) and long-term (over 20 years).
  4. Recommend research and education areas.

A written report will be prepared at the end of the meeting. Written statements (2-10 pages on the topics outlined in the Objectives) will be required two weeks before the meeting and will be placed on this website.

The participants will be from academe, private sector and government.

Preliminary program

Day 1 (Thursday, Room 375):
Plenary presentations (what is known and the methods of investigation)

Day 1, Thursday
Topical sessions

(Each of the three parallel sessions will start with brief topical presentations submitted in advance for setting the stage, and will continue with debates, reaching conclusions, and preparing draft statements)

Day 2. (Friday, Room 375)
Plenary presentations (Visions for the future, for different time scales)

Discussion on Workshop Conclusions and Research Needs
(Further brief presentation on possible pathways in the future)

Day 2, PM. Reports from break-up sessions in plenary meeting, and preparation of the draft report

Invited Experts

About 30-40 participants, plus 10-20 observers from NSF and other agencies

Leading speakers

Nanoscale science and technology participants

Social sciences participants