I am recommending this short piece because we are considering including it in a reading packet given to over 2500 undergraduate students who are involved with our NUE at U. South Carolina.
It is one of the few pieces that covers the breadth of the nanodebate and is well footnoted. It takes you through the defining process and the develops in microscopy. It uses the four systems organization schema to historicize the narrative. AND it does not shy away from some of the more radical or speculative materials. We plan to use the piece as a way to generate discussion and it does this very well. You will not agree with everything found in this piece but that is fine. I know that was not the author's intent.
On p. 7, in a paragraph following the bullets, you find a critically important discussion of the peculiarities of academic disciplines and how they may not act effectively to maximize the potential of applied nanoscience. In an academic setting like mine, I can attest to these issues and find them at many other universities in the USA.
The policy discussion is introduced on p. 7 and I applaud the author for mentioning "possible long-term existential threats to mankind" (though I would have said humankind) because this is the rhetoric to which the public is exposed. Given sufficient time, I would like to do a true content analysis of rhetoric associated with the "dark side" of nanoscience. I am fairly confident that we would find that the rhetoric falls into these categories.
- human risks associated with toxicological properties of nanoparticles;
- societal risks associated with advanced molecular manufacturing (i.e., dehumanization, post-humanism, etc);
- other societal risks (legal, privacy, etc.); and
- risks to the environment.
On p. 18, there is a wonderful rhetorical counterfactual. "Had the development of the World Wide Web waited for a full understanding of its socio-economic effects it would probably not exist today." An interesting supposition and worth teasing out.
Congrats to Mr. Kennedy. This piece will join a handful of others in my must read reading list for an introduction to nanoscience and nanotechnology.