- Hardcover: 385 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (August 17, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470084162
- ISBN-13: 978-0470084168
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,084,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Nanoethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology 1st Edition
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"This is a thought-provoking book … Essential reading for scientists entering the realm of nanotechnology." (Nanotechnology Perceptions, July 2008)
"It is recommended reading for scientists and engineers working in all areas of present-day nanoscience and nanotechnology." (Angewandte Chemie, May 13, 2008)
"...this compact collection is highly welcome." (Angewandte Chemie, 2008-47/21)
“…these essays will provide a broad background for those who have yet to discover the many benefits that may result.” (Chemistry and Industry, December 2007)--This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From the Back Cover
Nanotechnology will eventually impact every area of our world
Nanoethics seeks to examine the potential risks and rewards of applications of nanotechnology. This up-to-date anthology gives the reader an introduction to and basic foundation in nanotechnology and nanoethics, and then delves into near-, mid-, and far-term issues. Comprehensive and authoritative, it:
Goes beyond the usual environmental, health, and safety (EHS) concerns toexexplore such topics as privacy, nanomedicine, human enhancement, global regulation, military, humanitarianism, education, artificial intelligence, space exploration, life extension, and more
Features contributions from forty preeminent experts from academia and industry worldwide, reflecting diverse perspectives
Includes seminal works that influence nanoethics today
Encourages an informed, proactive approach to nanoethics and advocates addressing new and emerging controversies before they impede progress or impact our welfare
This resource is designed to promote further investigations and a broad and balanced dialogue in nanoethics, dealing with critical issues that will affect the industry as well as society. While this will be a definitive reference for students, scientists in academia and industry, policymakers, and regulators, it's also a valuable resource for anyone who wants to understand the challenges, principles, and potential of nanotechnology.
Top customer reviews
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And that is just what Nanoethics provides: an entire book for 40 diverse authors to explore the debate, put it in context, and analyze how we predict and evaluate risk. They examine issues in health, environment, democracy, policy, privacy, military conflict, education, and developing countries. They conclude with speculation on the ethical issues in the far future...you know, more than a decade out.
The inevitable price of so many authors is occasional repetition, as many introduce their articles with a nod to the seminal Feynman talk suggesting we could eventually build with molecular precision. The welcome benefit of so many authors is a diversity of viewpoints (e.g. Bill Joy and Ray Kurzweil differ on whether to develop powerful technologies). An unbiased viewpoint may be impossible, so it's best to get a multibiased one.
Don't expect simple conclusions because nanotechnology is subject to varying definitions and ethics are always subjective. I was impressed with how fairly the introductory chapter represented the arguments of others who claim that nanotechnology is insufficiently distinct from established fields of chemistry and engineering to warrant its own study of ethics. No use of the straw man for these authors, they made the case so well, I worried the rest of the book would be cancelled. Not to fear, the critics are addressed and the case made that, whatever the semantics of nanotechnology, issues important to society and species arise from what we call nanotechnology.
This would be a good text for an "ethics in science and engineering" course, but I found it quite good for pleasure reading. Whatever the venue, Nanoethics addresses important issues. Nanotechnology has the potential to transform our world and the way we live in it. With each new technology over the millennia, humankind has had the opportunity to make new choices. When we have not paused to consider our most deeply held values, we've made myopic choices. The more powerful the technology, the more important we evaluate our options carefully. Nanoethics helps us to consciously and collectively evaluate what may be the most powerful technology ever.
I am the Director of Education for the Foresight Nanotech Institute and the author of Technology Challenged: Understanding Our Creations & Choosing Our Future.
Nanotechnology is the manipulation or interaction of materials at the molecular level (1-100 nanometers, or 1-100 billionths of a meter). To understand the size, or scale, of a nanometer, one nanometer next to a meter stick would be the same as one blueberry next to the earth. Physical properties at the nano-scale are quite varied when compared to a scale that we are used to. For example, aluminum, which is highly stable and easily manipulated on a large scale, is violently explosive in the presence of air at the nano-scale.
Scientists hope to use nanotechnology to manipulate individual molecules and control production of consumer products to minutely precise specifications. If the goals are successfully achieved, it would be possible to take starting materials (dirt and water) and produce a myriad of products ranging from fresh Atlantic Salmon, to a new car. This would be possible because every product humans produce is comprised of molecules in a specific order. If we can control the way in which we organize molecules, we can produce any product.
The book is organized into seven sections, dealing with all aspects of nanotechnology. The sections are organized into an introduction to, background of, preparation for, health and environmental concerns of, governmental policy of, social impact of, and future of nanotechnology. Each chapter has been written independently, so the logical flow is slightly jumbled and the voice shifts repeatedly. Concepts addressed in one chapter may not be readdressed or countered until several chapters later. Nevertheless, the book covers all of the relevant topics, and addresses numerous subjects that would have been omitted if written by a single author.
The authors of the individual chapters do little to combat the notion that nanotechnology will be a mechanism to solve every problem known to man. The overly optimistic ideas projected as certainties within 20-30 years are comparable to the myopic predictions expressed by nuclear advocates in the 1950's. Given the rate at which technological predictions come to fruition, it can be assumed that nanotechnology will be far from the predicted level of omnipotent science.
The predicted capabilities of nanotechnology in Nanoethics are far reaching, and all encompassing. Some of the predictions made in the book seem to be more science fiction than real science. Ranging from limitless cheap commodity production to the end of human death, it is fair to say that the individual authors have predicted their idea of a utopia, rather than made judgments based in reality. As far as the idea that we could use nanotechnology to manufacturer products quickly and inexpensively, I think it would require more effort than is discussed in the book. All biological entities use this form of manufacturing to grow, and this is not a fast easy process. Biological entities are highly specialized at building specific molecules, and they take months or even years to build something on a large scale. It seems unfeasible to me that this process would operate any differently than it occurs in nature. While it may be possible to produce an F-22 fighter by molecular manufacturing, it would probably take several years and a large input of energy.
When not droning on about nanotechnology returning man to the Garden of Eden, the bulk of the selected writings do provide sound reasoning for use of regulation and caution in this undeveloped science. Authors are quick to suggest that just because we can create something, doesn't mean we should. One author, Bill Joy, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems, even goes so far as to suggest relinquishment of new technologies due to the possible dangers of misuse or an accident. Bill Joy's argument is well opposed by later authors (and even specifically addressed), but the need for regulation is clearly defined.
I agree with several authors points that regulation is needed, and that such regulation should be addressed within the public forum. Much of this open discussion was not utilized during the initial growth of genetic modification, which caused widespread public distrust of the process. By creating a transparent development plan, that incorporates all points of view, nanotechnology will be more widely accepted by the general public, and may prove to be more easily developed. This rationale is supported throughout the book.
I would highly recommend Nanoethics to anyone interested in science and government policy. This book would even be enjoyable to people with little scientific background because it points out the possible future uses of technology that promise to change the human experience. Nanoethics is a well-balanced collection of independent essays organized in such a manner that the reader will become acquainted with the technology, and understand the possible benefits and risks. The readings also help provide a justification for regulation and the expected decreased rate of technological knowledge growth caused by that regulation. Throughout the book, little is done to combat the notion that nanotechnology will save every person on Earth that is suffering slightly, but that is typical with any new area of study. Nanoethics, one of the first books of its kind, will prove to be a good addition to the library of any science aficionado, and copied by others in the future.