Moving the nanoscience and technology (NST) debate forwards: short-term impacts, long-term uncertainty and the social constitution
Arnall, A. and Parr, D. (2005) Moving the nanoscience and technology (NST) debate forwards: short-term impacts, long-term uncertainty and the social constitution. Technology in Society, 27 (1). pp. 23-38. ISSN 0160-791X
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.techsoc.2004.10.005
Nanoscience and technology (NST) are widely cited to be the defining technology for the 21st century. In recent years, the debate surrounding NST has become increasingly public, with much of this interest stemming from two radically opposing long-term visions of a NST-enabled future: ‘nano-optimism’ and ‘nano-pessimism’. This paper demonstrates that NST is a complex and wide-ranging discipline, the future of which is characterised by uncertainty. It argues that consideration of the present-day issues surrounding NST is essential if the public debate is to move forwards. In particular, the social constitution of an emerging technology is crucial if any meaningful discussion surrounding costs and benefits is to be realised. An exploration of the social constitution of NST raises a number of issues, of which unintended consequences and the interests of those who own and control new technologies are highlighted.