ENGRI_1110_Lect33_Nov16_posted - Ethics and Nanotechnology...

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Ethics and Nanotechnology Cautionary Tale: Ethical Lapse in Era of Nanotechnology Promises of Nanotechnology: Hope vs. Expectation Debating Nanotechnology: Real and Perceived Risks
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1. Providing Renewable Clean Energy 2. Supplying Clean Water Globally 3. Improving Health and Longevity 4 . Healing and Preserving the Environment 5. Making Information Technology Available To All 6. Enabling Space Development
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Is nanotechnology compared to any non-technical approaches to global challenges? Is nanotechnology differentiated from other “non-nano” capabilities? Could you substitute “innovative technology” for “nanotechnology” in the argument? If nanotechnology is a placeholder for anything that incorporates nanoscale objects or processes, is it really a meaningful concept?
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Consequences of accepting the nanotechnology challenge Keep the funding levels high Publicly funded inventions? Keep information free Amend patent rights? Nongovernmental initiatives Guidelines for safe and ethical practices Financial incentives for beneficial implementation Assumption that market forces and politics are not sufficient to guide nanotechnology properly
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Risks of Nanotechnology Any engineered product has risks: usually manageable “Good” uses vs. “evil” uses Can a technology be intrinsically bad or good? Broad Societal Concerns Nanotechnology will produce nanomachines that could replicate uncontrollably Privacy invasion with increasingly miniaturized devices Economic advantages not shared equally Quantifiable Risks Hazards to humans of nanoparticle exposure Environmental hazards of nanoparticles
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Nanotechnology: intrinsic consequences? 1986: Eric Drexler, publishes Engines of Creation, The Coming Era of Nanotechnology .
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Grey Goo Disaster Grey goo is a hypothetical end-of-the- world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which out-of-control self-replicating robots consume all living matter on Earth while building more of themselves Also can refer to a more general problem of the irreversibility of the recall/removal from natural system of micro-engineered materials or organisms
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Nanotech will destroy the world As engines of destruction, nanotechnology and AI systems will lend themselves to more subtle uses than do nuclear weapons. A bomb can only be used to blast things but nanomachines and AI systems could be used to infiltrate, seize, or control a territory or a world. Drexler, Engines of Creation , 1986, p. 174 The nightmare is that combined with genetic materials and thereby self-replicating, these nanobots would be able to multiply themselves into a “gray goo” that could outperform photosynthesis and usurp the entire biosphere, including all edible plants and animals. American Spectator
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ENGRI_1110_Lect33_Nov16_posted - Ethics and Nanotechnology...

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