Economics and Governance of Nanomaterials potential and risks
Delgado, Gian Carlo
Technology and Society
Vol. 32, Num. 2
Delgados essays focuses on the potential economic benefits of nanotechnology and the possible pitfalls therein. He points out that the United States dwarfs other countries in both financing for nanotechnology and patent applications, suggesting the US is trying to establish itself as the biggest power in this emerging field. While this may be a productive enterprise, Delgado also identifies the risks and responsibilities inherent in leading such an ill-defined and volatile market as nanotechnology. For Delgado, this includes issues of legal questions (including regulation), ethical guidelines and codes, and corporate responsibility, all of which must be satisfied if the billions of dollars spent annually on nanotechnology research are to bear fruit. Paying attention to these issues is important because it fosters responsible social management of nanotechnology, which is crucial when dealing with such a potentially revolutionary process. Because the field is so unpredictable in its direction and results, nanotechnology assessments need to be enriched by developing non-conventional perspectives that instead of trying to avoid or neutralize risk, on the contrary, aim to learn to live with it by trying to manage it.