Microsystems and Nanoscience for Biomedical Applications: A View to the Future
Pilarski, Linda M.
Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society
Vol. 24, Num. 1
"At present there is an enormous discrepancy between our nanotechnological capabilities (particularly our nanobiotechnologies), our social wisdom, and consensus on how to apply them." However, Pilarski et. al take a positive view on the possibilities of nanotechnology in biomedical applications. "Properly used in a solid legal and ethical framework, within an educated population, these advances will vastly enrich our quality of life without being intrusive." Most exciting are the systems and ideas being developed to fight cancer, including microfluidic devices for detection and targeting of cancerous cells. Perhaps, with greater knowledge of the specifics molecular basis of disease, more health problems could be solved individually and cheaply. Pilarski et al warn that there are problems: "[i]mproperly used, these technologies could lead to a modern-day Luddism, social turmoil, or possibly even to emulating those societies described in the darkest of novels." The public trust needs to be protected and the public itself needs to be consulted, especially as parallel technologies in genetics have already stirred deep fears about privacy and normalcy. Social and legal frameworks must be developed and put in place as the technologies advance. "To ensure that this occurs, we need to have the ethical, legal, scientific, and engineering experts working together and with the public."