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More Grey Goo
This is the latest chapter in Winston's continuing watch over nanotechnology. The nanotechers now have an association called International Council on Nanotechnology. It is based at Rice University and is reportedly funded by contributions from companies making nanotech products. They have a website (see link below) that provides an easily accessible and apparently objective source of information about nanotechnology--pros and cons and currently unknowns. Winston recommends that anyone interested in the subject look at their site.

The Federal government has its own group for coordinating nanotech research and disseminating information about nanotech developments. The government's involvement arises in part because it is spending hundreds of millions of your tax dollars on nanotech research and technology development. The government effort is called the National Nanotechnology Initiative (see link below). Eighteen federal agencies participate in the initiative, and it is run by the National Science Technology Council. The goals of NNI include "better understand[ing] the social, ethical, health, and environmental implications of the technology...."

Speaking of which, the giant international reinsurance company Swiss Re recently published a report for the insurance industry on nanotechnology risk. The report addresses the "emerging risk" of nanotechnology because it "is expected to become a ubiquitous technology-one which will help generate many innovative products and applications." The Swiss Re report explains that nanotechnology may "defy the laws of physics," and warns that

    "[f]or the time being, there are no specific regulatory guidelines that address potential risks. In fact, the industry community has only started to evaluate potential 'nano-risks.' There is no global approach toward finding a solution that would satisfy the needs of business, scientists and regulators alike. To date, given the complexity of nanotechnology, no single authority or country can find answers to the questions at hand."
The Swiss Re report expresses concern that nanoparticles may cross the blood-brain barrier and destroy brain cells.

Winston does not want Buckyballs to eat his brain. He seeks reassurance that this will not occur, but has not yet found any in the nanotech community. Based on the Swiss Re report, the insurance industry is equally concerned.
  • Click for International Council on Nanotechnology Website.
  • Click for National Technology Initiative Website.
  • Click for Swiss Re Nanotechnology Report.

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