Nanotechnology and Ethics

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					“Nanoethics”: Is Anything There?

                                           Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D.
                                               Center for Bioethics
           Departments of Psychiatry, Medical Ethics, and Sociology
  What is “Nanotechnology”?
Formal definition: Study and control
 of phenomena and materials at length
 scales below 100 nm.
  But there are many nanotechnologies.
Social definition: A political rhetorical
 term strategically applied to a diverse
 set of activities in order to create
 economic coherence and incentives.
         Worldwide Funding for Nano R&D
                                     from Roco, 2003

Region              1997      1998    1999     2000    2001    2002    2003    2004R

W. Europe           126       151     179      200     ~225    ~400    ~650
Japan               120       135     157      245     ~465    ~720    ~800
USA                 116       190     255      270     465     697     774     849
Other               70        83      96       110     ~380    ~550    ~800
Total (% of 1997)   423
100   559     687      825     1,535   2,367   3,024
                    %         129%    159%     191%    355%    543%    700%
           Worldwide Markets
 Worldwide more than $9.5 billion was spent on
  nanotechnology research and development in 2005
 Nanotechnology used in $30 billion worth of goods in
 The US market had a 27% share in 2005, followed by the
  Japanese market with more than a 24% share. The
  western European market had a quarter of the market
 It is projected that by 2008, the total global demand for
  nanoscale materials, devices and tools will cross $28
    Nano has consumer caché
 Food storage bags and containers available through
  Sharper Image which the company claims are "infused with
  naturally antibacterial silver nanoparticles.”
 Bed linen sold at JCPenney guaranteeing the "ultimate
  nanotechnology performance" and a "breathable sheet
  that's engineered to keep you cool and comfy.”
 "NANO B-12 Vitamin Spray" about which the manufacture
  says "your children will love the taste, it's like candy.”
 A dietary supplement that promises youth-seeking buyers
  "the highest bioavailability with a first-ever
  nanotechnology process and advanced levels of key anti-
  aging nutrients in a comprehensive formula."
     State of Nanotech Today
Definitional confusion
    Size def has not clarified disciplinary boundaries
    Even identifying actors and stakeholders is impossible
No clear differentiation between nanotech &
Wide divergence between imagined and existing
 science and technology
Driven by the academy
Existing market dominated by luxury goods
Is there discrete nano knowledge, or simply the
 science of different fields at nanoscale?
Do we need a new ethical
Are there new ethical issues in
Is there any there there?

                                                     36   39
40                                              34
30                                         26
20                                    16

10         2    3
      1              1    1
     1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005
 Why so much concern with
  Nanotechnology Ethics?

It all
 started with
Foresight Institute Ethics Code

Nanotechnology's highest and best use should be to create a world of
 abundance where no one is lacking for their basic needs. Those needs
 include adequate food, safe water, a clean environment, housing,
 medical care, education, public safety, fair labor, unrestricted travel,
 artistic expression and freedom from fear and oppression. 

High priority must be given to the efficient and economical global
 distribution of the products and services created by nanotechnology.
 We recognize the need for reasonable return on investment, but we
 must also recognize that our planet is small and we all depend upon
 each other for safety, stability, even survival. 

Military research and applications of nanotechnology must be limited to
 defense and security systems, and not for political purposes or
 aggression. And any government-funded research that generates
 useful non-military technological advances must be made available to
 the public.
      Foresight Institute Ethics Code

   Scientists developing and experimenting with nanotechnology must have a
    solid grounding in ecology and public safety, or have someone on their team
    who does. Scientists and their organizations must also be held accountable
    for the willful, fraudulent or irresponsible misuse of the science. 

   All published research and discussion of nanotechnology should be accurate
    as possible, adhere to the scientific method, and give due credit to sources.
    Labeling of products should be clear and accurate, and promotion of
    services, including consulting, should disclose any conflicts of interest. 

   Published debates over nanotechnology, including chat room discussions,
    should focus on advancing the merits of the arguments rather than personal
    attacks, such as questioning the motives of opponents. 

   Business models in the field should incorporate long-term, sustainable
    practices, such as the efficient use of resources, recycling of toxic materials,
    adequate compensation for workers and other fair labor practices. 

   Industry leaders should be collaborative and self-regulating, but also
    support public education in the sciences and reasonable legislation to deal
    with legal and social issues associated with nanotechnology.
      Categories of Ethical Concern
   Environmental
     Industrial Pollution
     Waste disposal
     Human Excretion
                   Altered Environments

Sub-micron particles, harmful to human health. The the pollution source is mainly
         hydrocarbon combustion (combustion engines, heating systems).
      Categories of Ethical Concern

   Environmental
     Waste disposal
     Human Excretion

   Health Risks
        Toxicity
        Accumulation in body tissues
        Immune or allergic reactions
     Comparison of Magnified Nanotechnology
              Fibers and Asbestos

Fabricated nanoelectrodes      Asbestos fibers
      Categories of Ethical Concern
   Environmental
        Industrial Pollution
        Waste disposal
        Human Excretion
   Health Risks
        Toxicity
        Accumulation in body tissues
        Immune or allergic reactions
   Personal and Social
      Personal Identity
      Enhancement
      Nanotracers
      Biowarfare/Military applications
  Altmann, Military Nanotechnology:Potential
   Applications and Preventive Arms Control

 Ban on self-contained sensor systems below 3-5 cm
 Ban on small arms, light weapons and munitions that contain
  no metal
 Ban on missiles below 0.2-0.5 m
 Moratorium on non-medical body implants body manipulation
 Ban on re-usable armed, mobile systems without crew
 Ban on mobile artificial systems below 0.2-0.5 m
 Comprehensive ban on space weapons (related to
 Uphold and strengthen Chemical Weapons Convention,
  Biological Weapons Convention
      Categories of Ethical Concern
   Environmental                            Justice/Economics
        Industrial Pollution                  Fair distribution
        Waste disposal                        Economic dislocation
        Human Excretion
                                             Adequate Safeguards
   Health Risks
        Toxicity
                                               Control over nanomachines
        Accumulation in body tissues          Chain reaction scenarios

        Immune or allergic reactions
                                                (beyond ecophagy)

   Personal and Social
                                             Hype
      Personal Identity                       Grey goo
      Enhancement                             Industry promises
      Nanotracers
      Biowarfare/Military applications
Public Perceptions
          Nano Medicine
Diagnostic tests
Drug delivery methods
Health issues include
intentional and
unintentional introduction
of nanotechnology into the
human system...
Neuron chips are the start of a
new set of technologies where
animal or human tissues are
integrated into the
manufacturing of information
       Regulatory Vacuum
 US is behind in regulation according
 to almost all nano experts.
   Has led to investor reluctance due to
   unstable regulatory environment
Report out of the UK reprimands gov’t
 for dragging its feet on Nano regulation
 Do we need “Nano-Ethics”?
No, but…
Need a public conversation, not only
 an expert-driven ethic
Nothing new in the ethics toolbox
This is a good thing for nanoscience
 and technology
  Normalization of nanotechnology ethics (Penn) (AJOB)

       University of Pennsylvania
Center for Bioethics • School of Medicine