Nanotech Database

Article Title:
Mediating Uncertainty: Communicating the Financial Risks of Nanotechnologies

Ebeling, Mary F. E.

Journal Information:
Science Communication
Vol. 29, Num. 3


Ebeling is concerned here with the marketability of nanotechnology, a novel approach in that she does not assume that investors are the same hopeful people that authors usually assume the general public to be and instead argues that they need to be convinced of the safety and promise of the field in order to earn their dollars. She shows how those with a vested interest in the financial success of nanotechnologies simplify and gloss over the complexities of the technologies, as well as the controversies that surround them, in a collective effort to build a profitable nanomarket; whereas the general public usually needs to be convinced of the physical safety of nanotechnology before it seemingly limitless potential can be realized, these people need to be convinced of its financial viability, that fiscal disasters will not be precipitated by physical ones, before they will invest their capital. As such, the media figures that serve as intermediaries between those investors and the scientists working in the field tend toward hyperbole in describing nanotechnology and its promise while oversimplifying both the field and its inherent risks. It seems somewhat dangerous to Ebeling that these companies are so willing to not only ignore the obvious dangers nanotechnology represents but also to use their power not to incorporate public perceptions into nanotechnology programs, but to deflect criticisms and calls for regulation through marketing campaigns.