Tiny Steps Towards a framework for democratic governance of nanotech risks and benefits in the global South

We have been looking at issues surrounding nanotechnology & development for almost  decade, so a new brief from Nano-Dev called “Nanotechnologies for development: Towards a framework for democratic governance of risks and benefits in the global South” naturally caught our eye (available as a PDF here). Unfortunately it’s another report that fudges the issue by concluding that while nanotechnology may have some advantages there …

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What Use Is Nanotechnology?

Technology Review, besides being a great magazine edited by Jason Pontin, who I have known since the heyday of Red Herring, also puts on some great conferences. So I was excited and honoured to be invited to EmTech Spain, a two day conference in Malaga focussing on emerging technologies. Along with my World Economic Forum colleague Javier García Martínez of …

Iranian Nanotech Pt 1

I’ll be giving a more detailed report later in the week – although the bottom line is that the efforts made in Iran are impressive – but in the meantime here’s a summary and a look around the exhibition from Iranian TV (in English). Nanotech is the second item, about a quarter of the way in.

Innovation Starvation or Risk Avoidance?

While working on our report on Using Emerging Technologies to Address Global Risks, one of my favourite SciFi authors, Neal Stephenson, popped up with an essay on Innovation Starvation. It echoes Tyler Cowen‘s arguments that all the easy big stuff has been done,  and that all we have left to look forward to are incremental improvements rather than world changing …

What Is Technology For?

(Foreword to Using Emerging Technologies to Address Global Risks , October 2011) This is a question that often comes up in our dealings with global policy makers who spend huge sums on scientific research while simultaneously being fearful of its consequences. Many believe that it is somehow important for the economy in an undefined and non-quantifiable manner, or that it is some …

Throbbing Gristle

Plenty of news about artificial meat this weekend will give anyone dealing with public acceptance of science something to think about. Chemical & Engineering News reports that “Hanna L. Tuomisto, a graduate student at the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, and M. Joost Teixeira de Mattos, a microbial physiologist at the University of Amsterdam, used a modeling approach called life-cycle assessment to …

What Are Emerging Technologies For?

Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and re evaluate what we are doing and why, something my good friend Doug Mather of the Creation Company has been urging people to do for years. It is very easy, whether in science or in business to develop myopia or tunnel vision, concentrating so hard on one particular task or goal …

Despite The Gloom, Things Are Getting Better For Most Of US

The Spectator provides something to lift the mood after the holidays with an editorial looking on the bright side of 2011. Every day of this new year, some 200,000 people are likely to be lifted out of what the United Nations defines as extreme poverty: living on $1.25 a day or less. The United Nations estimates that 925 million souls …

Predicting The Future And Keeping It Bright

I spent some time in the ever fascinating city of Geneva this week for some meetings with the World Economic Forum where, as always, we are trying to figure out what to do about the world right now while trying to understand how the future will look – hopefully better than the present is the short answer! One of the …