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Nanotechnology, Upstream Visions and Sustainability Promises

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Group 4 'Organic Men' 45-60 yrs, BC1, Empty nesters, Working full time ... Based on a style of thought that conceives of nature and humans as infinitely malleable ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Nanotechnology, Upstream Visions and Sustainability Promises


1
Nanotechnology, Upstream Visions and
Sustainability Promises
  • Phil Macnaghten
  • Durham University

2
The paper
  1. Upstream move in STS
  2. Upstream visions of nanotechnology in a corporate
    setting
  3. Public engagement research
  4. Implications for sustainable global food markets
    (if any)

3
The future in science and technology studies
  • Growing STS literature
  • Expectations (Nik Brown, Mike Michael, Mads
    Borup, Cynthia Selin)
  • Visions (Armin Grunwald, Andreas Lösch)
  • Imaginaries (Brian Wynne, Joan Fujimura)
  • Emerging irreversibilities (Arie Rip, Harro van
    Lente)
  • Scenarios
  • Master narratives (Ulrika Felt, Brian Wynne)
  • Innovation science is shaped by (largely
    unacknowledged) social values and master
    narratives that are both normative and
    performative
  • Little research on corporate visions

4
Innovation is understood as a vector (Andy
Stirling)
space of technologicalpossibilities
time
Economics, history, philosophy, social studies
of technology all agree
technology is not homogeneous innovation
can follow many different directions there
is no single inevitable or uniquely right
technological pathway
5

Upstream public engagement
  • We have learnt that it is necessary with major
    technologies to ensure that the debate takes
    place upstream, as new areas emerge in the
    scientific and technological development
    process.
  • Lord Sainsbury, Science Minister

6
Project with Unilever
  • To understand the upstream visions held by RD
    staff, with a view to informing scenarios for
    public engagement.
  • To provide upstream social intelligence on likely
    public responses to the development of techniques
    and products using nanotechnologies.
  • To develop thinking about the practice of public
    engagement in a corporate RD context.
  • To inform corporate strategy on nanotechnology
    issues.

7
Novel for Unilever
  • The idea that science and technology does more
    than enable the company to meet needs and
    deliver benefits
  • The idea that scientists have visions (or values)
  • The idea that socials scientists should study
    their internal ST (as culture)
  • The idea that innovation pathways fits underlying
    social trajectories
  • The idea that public unease might transcend
    concerns over safety and harm

8
Nanotechnology and the landscape of promises
  1. Nanotechnology is largely about promise and the
    future

9
Nanotechnology Another Industrial Revolution
The world market for nanotechnology will exceed
US1 trillion by 2012 US National Science
Foundation ...(when) such (nano)technologies
arrive, the results will be awesome they will be
equivalent to James Watts invention of the
condenser, a development that kick-started the
industrial revolution Sir Harry Kroto, Nobel
Laureate Transnational companies often carry
out their own nanotech-related RD. This is
because they understand that nanotech is likely
to disrupt their current products and
processes UK Department of Trade and
Industry Nanotechnology has become a big
buzzword so much so that the stockbrokers
Merrill Lynch has created an index to track
investment in the newly burgeoning industry BBC
News
10
Nanotechnology The Next Big Thing
By anyone's measure, nanotechnology is the next
big thing. In fact, according to government RD
planners, nanotechnology is nothing short of the
next Industrial Revolution. Chemical
Engineering News, 2002
This image of 112 carbon monoxide molecules on a
copper surface was made at an IBM Research Center
using a scanning tunneling microscope. Each
letter is 4 nm high by 3 nm wide. About 250
million nanoletters of this size could be written
on a cross section of a human hair this
corresponds to 300 300-page books. President
Clinton used the image to unveil the US National
Nanotechnology Initiative.
11
Nanotechnology Some Opportunities for one
multinational
  • Looking Great
  • Enjoying a Long Life
  • Defying Age
  • Vibrant Colour
  • Improving Health
  • Adding Style
  • Providing Cleanliness and Hygiene
  • Delivering Essential Nutrition
  • Fighting Infection
  • Getting the Most Out of Stuff
  • Heightening Pleasure
  • Communicating with Consumers

12
Looking Great
Nano-engineering of oil droplet surfaces with
smart polymers
allows enhanced delivery of material
that make dry-damaged-coloured hair look great
13
Enjoying a Long Life
The large surface area of nanoparticles made of
good fats from plants (sterols/stanols)
lowering cholesterol levels and helping
consumers to live longer by eating our foods
results in improved transfer of the fats in the
stomach into living cells
14
Defying Age
Simple biomolecules and nanocrystals
form self-assembled structures
that resemble complex biological materials and
allow repair of teeth, skin, hair and fabrics
15
Improving Health
Creating nanoparticles of anti-oxidant actives
isolated from green tea
allowing delivery of health and hygiene from our
brands
protects and stabilises the material in products
16
Adding Style
Decorating oil droplets with silica nanoparticles
modifying feel and inter-fibre adhesion
allows delivery of ordered structures
for volumised, easy to style hair
17
Providing Cleanliness Hygiene
Mimicking the Sacred Lotus Plant (Nelumbo
Nucifera) or Stenocara beetle
through nano-scale patterning on large wax
particles
produces self-cleaning and water repellent
surfaces
18
Delivering Essential Nutrition
Invisible nanoparticles (with no taste) made out
of vitamins, minerals, dietary supplements
can be incorporated into clear and translucent
drinks
which look fantastic, taste great and provide
essential nutrients to consumers
19
Fighting Infection
Single molecules of product-insoluble
antimicrobial actives
silver
triclosan
climbazole
incorporated into dispersible nanoparticles
yield enhanced activity from products to treat
tooth decay, scalp itch or foot odour
20
Getting the Most Out of Stuff
Our detailed understanding of substrates
informs development of materials that bind
chemically or biologically
to deliver benefits only where they are needed
21
Heightening Pleasure
Fragile fragrance, flavours, vitamins, enzymes
put in a bag
that isolates them from their environment and
exhibits affinity for the substrate...
allows controlled release to meet consumer
demands for long-lasting perfume, great tasting
food...
22
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25
The public groups
  • Four focus groups, each 3 hours
  • Group 1- Involved Mothers  30-40 yrs, BC1,
    Mothers of at 1 pre teen child, Working
  • Group 2 Metrosexuals, Male/Female, 25-30 yrs,
    C1
  • Group 3 Aspirational Women  40-55 yrs, C1/2,
    Mothers of teenage/post teenage children
  • Group 4 Organic Men 45-60 yrs, BC1, Empty
    nesters, Working full time

26
Scepticism about safety
  • I would assume that before it came to market,
    whatever product, it would have been properly
    tested.
  • Surely something like thalidomide was thoroughly
    tested and look what it did. You know, it was
    going to be revolutionary safe on everything and
    look what it did. It was claimed to be
    revolutionary, safe and everything, and look what
    it did.
  • Valid point
  • It has to be tested for a few generations just to
    see the impact, thirty years or so.
  • So can we trust them? Obviously not.
  • (Group 4)
  • How can something like that slip onto the market
    without anyone knowing about it? (Group 1)
  • Int What do they think the role is of corporate
    science?
  • Its marketing science 99 of it is rubbish
  • (Group 4)

27
Beyond benefit to questions of broader
motivation
  • Well, the only people who will benefit, will be
    people like LOreal and Dove and all that because
    they are the ones who are going to take the
    money... (Group 3)
  • I think what concerns me is the drive of all of
    this. Youre going to create better tasting
    dessert. Theres nothing better than apples,
    right? Apples are great. They grow. Theyre
    natural. I mean, all the stuff that we need is
    already here. What is the point of this? Why are
    we being driven always away from just the natural
    free things that grow, you breathe, to things
    that you have to pay for?... Its all about just
    markets. (Group 4)
  • People are stuck in a certain consumer hamster
    wheel where we always have to buy the latest, the
    latest, the latest and I dont think that is a
    positive thing because 99 of the things we use
    we dont needSo this is vested interest that
    keeps the people on the hamster wheel of
    innovation. So you always have got the next, the
    next, the next. I dont know if thats a good
    thing or bad either. (Group 4)

28
What do we need?
  • But you dont need to do that. You can feed the
    world as it is. Its not about that theres not
    enough food, its about the politics of food. And
    its about economies of scale. Its about how
    markets operate. I mean, we can have enough food
    for everyone if you dont have America polluting
    the world like it is and using up all the worlds
    resources and they share them out, theres enough
    for everyone. (Group 4)
  • Why does food need engineering.
  • Yeah. What is the benefit of that. (Group 3)
  • We can live without any of that (Group 1)
  • ( metaphorically and literally cf. Medical
    applications)

29
Messing with nature
  • You know that it is messing with nature
    really. (Group 1)
  • Because you know if by enhancing the taste and
    what have you, its like you dont know whats
    going to be real and whats not going to be real.
    Youre kind of kidding yourself because your
    taste buds are there or however they taste is
    natural and then you kind of give them something
    thats just not really
  • I think thats when you come into ethics though
    in a way because you know everything in the
    planet is growing for a reason and for us to
    sort of- and its like do we take all that away
    and who gives anyone the right to completely you
    know do that. (Group 2)
  • OK, but whats the long-term consequence of
    this. Nobody will know what the long-term
    consequence is
  • I mean thats all messing around with
  • Theyre messing around with the building blocks
    of matter. (Group 3)

30
How does this make you feel?
  • Int Right this makes you feel what?
  • Very uncomfortable.
  • Int This makes you feel what?
  • Combative.
  • Skeptical.
  • Im not sure of what I feel.
  • Im not sure what Nano Technology is.
  • Int Sure.
  • Is it making things better or is it gonna make
    things worse?
  • Im very confused. The rules are very
    suspicious about anything
  • I think that is quite scary, myself. (Group 3)

31
Nanotechnology as double-sided
  • Nanotechnology is presented as if there isnt
    a down side (Group 1)
  • Theres got to be some downside to it
    somewhere (Group 1)
  • There are always benefits, theres always
    downsides (Group 4)
  • IntYoure not saying its good or bad. Youre
    saying you know that it could possibly be this
  • Like a balance because everything so far has
    been about like a balance. You mean will we look
    for the nano for more.
  • Until we see an option that you cant really
    give a correct opinion on it because you dont
    know how effective it is.
  • Because the nano world might not bring
    perfection to certain people as well. So they
    might always keep looking for more. (Group 2)

32
Visioning the nano-world
  • Its in the place of being, creating and being
    God. Thats what the attraction is. You can get
    close. You get that to the molecular level. You
    can take it and put it back together again, in
    the way you want it to be. Take the thing thats
    going to become a boy out and put it back
    together again, youll going to have a little
    girl instead. Thats the attraction. Thats
    certainly playing God. (Group 4)
  • You know, nano is invisible. You can use it like
    a virus. So theres that aspect. (Group 3)
  • I think its like a huge leap that hasnt- you
    know what I mean? You know theyre chasing
    things, its frightening. And I think thats
    quite frightening about it. All of a sudden and
    its like how much research is going to go in or
    is it going to go on the market too quick and
    then therell be because I think personally we
    always seem to be trying to correct technology
    like GM foods, what have you. That was technology
    but now were trying to stop and it always seems
    like we seem to be backtracking on things.
    (Group 2)
  • Where do you get your pleasure from if
    everything is so wonderful (Group 1)
  • I think people think everybody will end up
    looking the same. All the blond hair and blue
    eyes and stuff like that. (Group 2)

33
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34
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35
The metaphysics of the nanoworld
  • For the nanoscientist
  • Nanotechnology as the enabler of human
    capacities, needs, desires and potentialities
  • Through nanotechnology people will be able to
    transcend their material and natural
    constraints and thus realise full liberation and
    emancipation
  • Based on a style of thought that conceives of
    nature and humans as infinitely malleable
  • The world is in principle re-constructable and
    thus available for redesign and improvement
  • For the public
  • Seductive appeal be careful what you wish for
  • Denial of finitude
  • Unravelling of moral boundaries
  • Part of a wider narrative of instrumentalisation
    of life and control over nature
  • Antithesis to values of sustainability (e.g.
    restraint, humility, care, becoming)
  • Requires a language beyond benefits

36
Implications for sustainable global food markets
(if any)
Our commitment is to manage our social and
environmental impacts responsibly, to work in
partnership with our stakeholders and to
contribute to sustainable development. In this we
are guided by a clear set of values and standards
that govern the way we do business. the social
impact of our products, principally on peoples
health through nutrition and hygiene the steps
we are taking to minimise our environmental
footprint and secure sustainable supplies of key
raw materials how our operations create wealth
and how this benefits stakeholders and local
communities. (Unilever Environment and Social
Report)
37
Implications for sustainable global food markets
(if any)
Our commitment is to manage our social and
environmental impacts responsibly, to work in
partnership with our stakeholders and to
contribute to sustainable development. In this we
are guided by a clear set of values and standards
that govern the way we do business. the social
impact of our products, principally on peoples
health through nutrition and hygiene the steps
we are taking to minimise our environmental
footprint and secure sustainable supplies of key
raw materials how our operations create wealth
and how this benefits stakeholders and local
communities. (Unilever Environment and Social
Report)
  • Sustainability presented as downstream
    activity for major corporations
  • Corporate social responsibility, Lifecycle
    analysis etc.
  • Independent from visions (and associated values)
    driving innovation
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