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Nano R&D Code of Conduct

S.NET/Day 3 Plenary— René von Schomberg has just finished walking us through a examination of the EU Commission’s main attempt to address responsibility in the context of nanotechnoscientific R&D. As important as the question of how to assign responsibility is whether such a code will have any bite. In any case, the Commission’s Code of Conduct is well worth reading, particularly for those interested in the precautionary principle and/or comparative policy analysis.

2 comments to Nano R&D Code of Conduct

  • Hi Michael,
    I enjoyed meeting you last week in Seattle and am glad to see these posts from the conference! Will you be posting the video response from Altmann as well?
    Best,
    Deborah

  • Michael Burnam-Fink

    Read the Nano Code of Conduct, and two things immediately jumped out at me. First, 4.1.11, that research bodies should standardized terminology. Nomenclature is more than word games, it shapes the ways in which think about the world. Calling for standard terminology would be an early step in the closure of nanotechnology.

    In the prohibition section, there is a call for not violating fundamental ethical principles, with new viruses given as an example. We should strongly consider the implications of military nanotechnology, particularly for targeted assassinations and robotic soldiers. Their call for non-therapeutic human enhancement is more problematic. I believe that we are going to see a blurring of the lines between medical (health is a social construct), commercially necessary (can you afford not to be as smart as your nano-enhanced colleagues) and recreational body modification. We are already cyborgs, why are nano-cyborgisms so dangerous that even research into enhancement technology is prohibited?

    An aside on the topic of drugs. Commonly available mechanosynthesis would be a massive boon to drug users. Right now, synthesis of illicit drugs is controlled by monitoring their precursors. Mechanosynthesis uses the same elemental building blocks for all its products, so it essentially putting a drug lab in every home. How can we prevent personal fabricators, both macro and nano, from undermining laws that right now we consider necessary for society?

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