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Global Technology Regulation and Potentially Apocalyptic Technological Threats

Abstract: In 2000 Bill Joy proposed that the best way to prevent technological apocalypse was to “relinquish” emerging bio-, info- and nanotechnologies. His essay introduced many watchdog groups to the dangers that futurists had been warning of for decades. One such group, ETC, has called for a moratorium on all nanotechnological research until all safety issues can be investigated and social impacts ameliorated. In this essay I discuss the differences and similarities of regulating bio- and nanotechnological innovation to the efforts to regulate nuclear and biological weapons of mass destruction. I then suggest the creation of a global technology regulatory regime to ensure the safe and equitable diffusion of genetic, molecular and information technologies, and point out the principal political obstacles to implementing such a regime.

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Nanoethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology
eds. Fritz Allhoff, Patrick Lin, James Moor, John Weckert
ISBN: 978-0-470-08417-5
416 pages
August 2007
US $39.95

Table of Contents

Ethical Choices in Nanotechnology Development (Mihail C. Roco).

1. Introduction: The Nanotechnology Debate.

1.1 What is Nanotechnology and Nanoethics? (Patrick Lin and Fritz Allhoff)

1.2 Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us (Bill Joy).

1.3 On the National Agenda: US Congressional Testimony on the Societal Implications of Nanotechnology (Ray Kurzweil).

2. Background: Nanotechnology in Context.

2.0 Unit Introduction (John Weckert).

2.1 Nanotech’s Promise: Overcoming Humanity’s More Pressing Challenge (Christine Peterson and Jacob Heller).

2.2 Debating Nanotechnologies (Richard A. L. Jones).

2.3 In the Beginning: the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (Neal Lane and Thomas Kalil).

2.4 Science Fiction: A Portal to the Ethics of Nanotechnology (Rosalyn Berne).

3. Issues: Preparing for the Next Revolution.

3.0 Unit Introduction (John Weckert).

3.1 The Nanotechnology (R)evolution (Charlie Tahan).

3.2 Technology Revolutions and the Problem of Prediction (Nick Bostrom).

3.3 Complexity and Uncertainty: A Prudential Approach to Nanotechnology (Jean-Pierre Dupuy).

3.4 The Precautionary Principle in Nanotechnology (John Weckert and James Moor).

4. Issues: Health and Environment.

4.0 Unit Introduction (Jim Moor).

4.1 Nanotechnology and Risk: What are the Issues (Anne Ingeborg Myhr and Roy Dalmo)?

4.2 Personal Choice in the Coming Era of Nanomedicine (Robert A. Freitas).

4.3 Are We Playing God with Nano-Enhancement (Ted Peters).

4.4 Anticipating the Political and Ethical Challenges of Human Nanotechnologies (David Guston, John Parsi, and Justin Tosi).

5. Issues: Democracy and Policy.

5.0 Unit Introduction (Jim Moor).

5.1 Global Technology Regulation and Potentially-Apocalyptic Technological Threats (James Hughes).

5.2 Deliberative Democracy and Nanotechnology, Colin Farrelly.

5.3 Rhetoric of ‘Stakeholding’ (David Berube).

5.4 The Rules of Engagement: Dialogue and Democracy in Creating Nanotechnology Futures (James Wilsdon and Jack Stilgoe).

6. Issues: Broader Societal Impact.

6.0 Unit Introduction (John Weckert).

6.1 Nanotechnology and Privacy: the Instructive Case of RFID, Jeroen van den Hoven.

6.2 Nanotechnology and the Military (Daniel Moore).

6.3 Can Nanoscience be a Catalyst for Educational Reform (Patricia Schank, Joseph Krajcik, and Molly Yunker)?

6.4 The Impact of Nanotechnologies on Developing Countries (Joachim Schummer).

7. Issues: The Distant Future?

7.0 Unit Introduction (Fritz Allhoff).

7.1 Challenges and Pitfalls in Exponential Manufacturing (Mike Treder and Chris Phoenix).

7.2 Nanoethics and the High Frontier (Tihamer Toth-Fejel and Chris Dodsworth).

7.3 Ethics for Artificial Intellects (J. Storrs Hall).

7.4 Nanotechnology and Life Extension (Sebastian Sethe).

James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist who serves as the Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He is author of Citizen Cyborg and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. From 1999-2011 he produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio. (Subscribe to the J. Hughes RSS feed)

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