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Nanotechnology Final

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Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology, which is widespread subject, is what is likely to be the driving force of many scientific changes of our earths future. It’s the technology of manipulating matter at the nano scale. Nanotechnology is applied in countless different fields such as science, health care, agriculture, security, computing etc. The ground breaking developments that are made in these various fields due to nanotech is why the world will continue to invest its time and money into the subject matter. “Many experts even predict that Nanotechnology is going to have as significant a place in the field of science and technology as the steam engine had at the time of its invention. Due to the potential it bears most developed and developing countries are making significant investment into nanotechnology research and development where the combined investment from the private and public sector is estimated to be around $12 billion annually.” (Michelson et al, 2008) The revolution of nanotechnology is not only expected to make many products and services friendlier economically, but is also going to allow for the miniaturization of control systems. Diseases will be more simple to cure, and we will have new cures for diseases that we do not yet have cures for. On the contrary with advantages come disadvantages. There are many widespread discussions regarding the negative effects of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology has its benefits but can also be lethal if used improperly. It is because of this that the topic of nanotechnology also attracts social, psychological and ethical debates. Nanotechnology has not even been used at its full potential yet the impact is still very well felt. However, scientists believe that the social effects will be essential part of its innovative character. Similar to any form of a new technology, nanotechnology receives criticism. This is to be expected when the world see’s this as a new era in the field of science and technology and believe it can prove the biggest turning point in human history.

“Nanotechnology is still a new and emerging field. Its early applications have been seen as modest developments from what already exists and is in use. However, the biggest nanotechnology enthusiasts claim that it can rebuild the human body as well as can abolish death effectively. But the pessimists claim the opposite that it can prove an effective threat for human life in the long run on the planet. Somewhere between these two extremes the truth of nanotechnology lies. But even then its contributions to computers, security, new energy sources as well as health care technology are certainly going to be significant. It is due to the varying viewpoints regarding this technology that it is giving rise to social, political and economic concerns.” (Michelson et al, 2008)

Nevertheless, something that we know for certain about nanotechnology is that there are many negatives that come along with the many bright positives. We are dealing with subject of heavy scientific research Which integrates materials and processes manipulates these things at a microscopic, nano scale. Still there is such much more to be explored regarding the impact of nano particles on human health and our environment. Research is still underway in regards to the chemical composition, shape and size of nano particles and how it may lead to toxicological effects.
Cultural Impact Culture can play a significant role in shaping the acceptance of evolving technologies such as Nanotechnology. The fiction book ‘Prey’ by Michael Crichton's has tried to fuse nanotechnology into science fiction. In this novel, the author describes how the scientists and popular culture play in educating society about emerging technologies. In differentiating fact from fiction, the article reflects on how such distinctions may be important in proactive public dialogue projects. At the same time, it is important to distinguish the science from the fiction work for development for nascent and emerging technology. Though, the new scientific field like nanotechnology can offer exciting opportunities for us, it shouldn’t be misrepresented by the science fiction writer taking advantage of lack of public knowledge and weaving their own fanciful stories around such technology. Government thus needs to enact regulatory frameworks based on sound science and inherent to serve public interest as well as corporate need to bring to market such breakthrough technology. So, the different culture and society can be a deterministic factor in shaping the people’s beliefs about nanotechnology and its advantages/disadvantages. It also triggers the need for government and scientific community to be proactive in differentiating sound science from fictional story for their citizens’ benefit. Also, Nanotechnology can also impact the culture as people are able to take advantage of nanotechnology and use it in day to day life. People can interact with other people in a very different way as nano devices being small can be carried anywhere. This can change fundamentally the way people act, communicate and share their life.

Sociological issues

Nanotechnology is a subject where social acceptance of this will be crucial to its continued development. There are many effects that will control people’s opinions about nanotechnology. When talking about the social issues of Nanotechnology we need to discuss the various interest groups and organizations associated with Nanotechnology, and overall benefits and harms to the society from such technology. Although nanotechnology might strike as unreal at times, this technology has actually been around for over 30 years. It first became a reality in 1981 with the development of the Scanning Tunneling Microscope. (CDC.gov 2012) As a result, nanotechnology is rapidly gaining awareness and has begun to have an impact on the manufacturing. Nanoscale materials are already used in electronics, cosmetics, automotive and medical products. (nanotechproject.org 2013) Sales are expected to reach 2.6 Trillion in 2014 (Ruta, 2005) However great the potential of Nanotechnology there is still cause for concern. With every new technology there is the potential for unintended side effects. Preliminary studies have shown that some nanomaterials are able to damage skin, brain, and lung tissue.

Social Acceptance Any new technology brings big promises and benefits and is projected by media and scientists as the next big revolution to remedy all the ills in the society and the nanotechnology is being considered and projected in the same manner. The promises like health, prosperity, clean environment and security is making the government round the globe to launch major programs around the Nanotechnology. On the other hand, there are environmentalists, ethical and social scientists raising voices and citing examples of the harmful effects of nanotechnology. A lot of these debates and discussions are influenced by the cultural specifics and participants bringing in their own values and cultures into the discussion on the use, benefits and effects of nanotechnology. Cultural aspects like language, cultural, heritage, economy, politics, and ethics play a vital role in determining the direction of these discussions. Depending on how a technology is defined and framed to people hailing from certain cultural group, they may relate that to their own events or memories and base their judgment or opinion on those issues. “In the US, where Christian religion is much more focused on the “end times”, nanotechnology is rather viewed as the dawn of the “Golden Age”, the “Apocalyptic destruction”, or both”. (Schummer, 2006). Popular culture can play a significant role in shaping the acceptance of evolving technologies. The article concludes that popular culture will be a key factor in informing citizen beliefs about the coming nano-age. Accordingly, governments, in conjunction with the scientific community, will need to be proactive in distinguishing science fact from science fiction for the benefit of their citizens. Considering the ethical, legal and political implications nanotechnology intersects with the existing policies in a number of areas. Currently research is going on in both the developing and developed nations, however investment, access to infrastructure etc vary a great deal across nations. A major sociological issue related to nanotechnology is regarding the military use of nanotechnology. The self activating nature of most nano particles while on one hand is a miracle, it can also prove a curse in some cases. The use of nanotechnology in warfare will result in decreased direct involvement of human beings. It can give birth to a series of smart weapons including miniature robotic weapons and target seeking ammunition. In case of malfunctioning of such weapons it may lead to very high and unexpected civilian casualties as well as injury and death to military personnel themselves. Similarly nano material could be used for developing stronger uniforms and equipment which weigh far less than ordinary. But the most notable fact is that it will also increase the lethality of the equipments and war and thus give rise to a lethal war technology which may cause devastation at a larger scale.

“We can see the benefits of nanotechnology are highly promising and can alter many things and applications in our daily life. Accompanying its benefits are the sociological and economical issues related to nanotechnology. The most important question is related to the divide it may give birth to between the rich and the poor or the developing and developed nations.” (Arnall, 2003) Society can benefit from the applications of nanotechnology in the fields of medical science and medicine as well as computing and security. On the other hand it can also become a cause of worry when used for wrong purposes. As noted earlier, if the nanoparticles meant to cure illnesses are misused, they can cause a high number of fatalities. Similarly, its use in military technology and warfare can lead to devastation and fatality on a very large scale. While its advantages cannot be counted on fingers similarly the issues surrounding nanotechnology are also large in number.

Future social impacts

Nanotechnoloy has the power to solve many of the problems in the world. Computers and other communication devices could become cheaper as a result of nanotechnology. Nanotechnoloy can also provide cheap and advanced equipment for medical research and health care making improved medicine. Molecular or nanoscale manufacturing will miniaturize the size of the computer which can fit in a small pocket and makes it cheap and affordable. Looking at its wide applications into areas makes it a promising technology candidate to be explored further so that its benefits can reach the wider humanity. Health care is an important segment and if the diagnosis and cure could be made more efficient and fast then why should we not explore and adopt this technology. Numerous sensors, nano scale computer like devices and other implanted devices may allow continuous health monitoring and treatment. Number of nano-enabled products is becoming commercialized and an example of that are sunscreens using nanoscale particles to provide protection from ultraviolet radiation or nanoscale coatings for glass lenses. Textiles are getting used to improve resistance and in some cases provide added functionality. Computer-integrated circuits have been using nanotechnology for many years. The transition from the laboratory to commercial nano-products is dependent on integrating the device into products with characterized and reproducible properties; scaling up the manufacturing; commercial production and market forces.

An important future issue that may arise is that of the nano divide.” Nanotechnology may lead to conflict of interests between nations and the political issues which may come up later as research in this field progresses are also expected to have quite big implications. It cannot be disputed that the benefits of nanotechnology are truly immense. But at the same time the risks it carries cannot be ignored either. (Eggleson, 2013)

Conclusion

Nanotechnology promises to have major implications for health, wealth, and peace in future decades. The thought of nanoscience is growing worldwide which in turn will cause dramatic changes in the ways materials, devices and systems are understood and created. The National Nanotechnology Initiative plans to accelerate the progress and corporate it into beneficial technologies. Breakthroughs plan to be in computer efficiency, human organ restoration, and entirely new phenomena in chemistry and physics.

The NNI seeks to make new opportunities for interdisciplinary work. It will be balanced across five different activities. They are fundamental research, grand challenges, centers and networks of excellence, research infrastructure, and ethical, legal, and social implications. Research on social will better the chances of NNI’s success which in turn will help the nation take advantage of new technology sooner, better, and with greater confidence.

NNI plans to make support for social and economic research studies on nanotechnology a high priority. One way is the creation of distributed research centers.

The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office will try to establish a mechanism to inform, educate, and involve the public regarding impacts of nanotechnology. They will develop programs to introduce nanoscale into mathematics, science, engineering, and technology education. Also include societal implications and ethical sensitivity on training of new nanotechnologist. Whey will produce sufficient numbers of well-trained social and economic scientists prepared for the nanotechnology area. They also plan to establish partnerships between industries and educational institutions for students to get adequate experience with nanoscale fabrication, manipulation, and characterization techniques.

In the next 10 to 20 years this science will transform technology and society. For the full advantage the scientific and technology community must set goals. Goals like meeting societal needs; involving all participants, including the general public, in exploiting them.

References

Arnall, A. H. (2003, July). Social and Political Concerns Regarding Nanotechnology Developments. In Azonano. Retrieved October 7, 2013, from http://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=1072

CDC.gov (2013) Nanotechnology Retrieved from: www.cdc.gov/niosh/nanotech/faq/html

Eggleson, K. (2013, January 25). Potential Benefits and Threats of Nanotechnology Research. In science Daily. Retrieved October 7, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130125154815.htm

Faster, more efficient, more robust: Nanotechnology in computers, mobile phones, and more (n.d.). In Nanostart. Retrieved October 7, 2013, from http://www.nanostart.de/index.php/en/nanotechnology/nanotechnology-information/610-schneller-sparsamer-robuster-nanotechnologie-in-computer-handy-a-co

Michelson, E. S., Sandler, R., & Rejeski, D. (2008). Nanotechnology. In The Hastings Center. Retrieved October 7, 2013, from http://www.thehastingscenter.org/Publications/BriefingBook/Detail.aspx?id=2192

Ruta G. (2005) Boston Globe- The downside of Nanotechnology. Retrieved from www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2005/11/28/the_downside_of_nanotechnology/

Schummer, Joachim. (2004). Nanotechnology Challenges: Implications for Philosophy, Ethics, and Society. River Edge, NJ, USA: World Scientific. p 413.

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (2013). Retrieved from http://www.nanotechproject.org/inventories/consumer.

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