Nanotech Database

Article Title:
The Role of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Nanotechnology Research and Development

Ebbesen, Mette

Journal Information:
Vol. 2, Num. 1


This article analyzes the role of the humanities and the social sciences in bringing the public and scientists together on the subject of nanotechnology. The furor over genetically modified organisms provides a useful model as to what to avoid, lest another boycott situation erupt. The author discusses the social sciences and humanities as hav[ing]a critical function asking fundamental questions and informing the public about nanotechnology and the concerns therein. The primary strategy the author supports for the integration of the social sciences and humanities within nanotechnology is the Real-Time Technology Assessment (RTTA) developed by David H. Guston and Daniel Sarewitz, whereby (1) analogical case studies, (2) research program mapping, (3) communication and early warning and (4) technological assessment and choice would best serve to bring these fields to a position where the public could remain informed of the risks and benefits of nanotechnology before significant progress is made.