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Nanoethics: Is Anything There

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Title: Nanoethics: Is Anything There


1
Nanoethics Is Anything There?
Paul Root Wolpe, Ph.D. Center for
Bioethics Departments of Psychiatry, Medical
Ethics, and Sociology

2
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.

3
Worldwide Funding for Nano RDfrom Roco, 2003
4
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 2005
  • 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 share.
  • It is projected that by 2008, the total global
    demand for nanoscale materials, devices and tools
    will cross 28 billion.

5
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."

6
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
    nanoscience
  • 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?

7
Nano-ethics?
  • Do we need a new ethical subdiscipline?
  • Are there new ethical issues in nanotechnology?
  • Is there any there there?

8
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9
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10
Why so much concern with Nanotechnology Ethics?
  • It all started with Dolly

11
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.

12
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.

13
Categories of Ethical Concern
  • Environmental
  • Industrial Pollution
  • Waste disposal
  • Human Excretion

14
Altered Environments
Sub-micron particles, harmful to human health.
The the pollution source is mainly hydrocarbon
combustion (combustion engines, heating systems).
15
Categories of Ethical Concern
  • Environmental
  • Industrial Pollution
  • Waste disposal
  • Human Excretion
  • Health Risks
  • Toxicity
  • Accumulation in body tissues
  • Immune or allergic reactions

16
Comparison of Magnified Nanotechnology Fibers
and Asbestos
Fabricated nanoelectrodes
Asbestos fibers
17
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

18
Altmann, Military NanotechnologyPotential
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
    microsatellites)
  • Uphold and strengthen Chemical Weapons
    Convention, Biological Weapons Convention

19
Categories of Ethical Concern
  • Justice/Economics
  • Fair distribution
  • Economic dislocation
  • Adequate Safeguards
  • Control over nanomachines
  • Chain reaction scenarios (beyond ecophagy)
  • Hype
  • Grey goo
  • Industry promises
  • 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

20
Public Perceptions
21
Nano Medicine
  • Prosthetics
  • Implants
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Drug delivery methods

22
Health issues include intentional and
unintentional introduction of nanotechnology into
the human system...
23
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24
Neuron chips are the start of a new set of
technologies where animal or human tissues are
integrated into the manufacturing of information
technology.
25
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 govt for
    dragging its feet on Nano regulation

26
Do we need Nano-Ethics?
  • No, but
  • Need a public conversation, not only an
    expert-driven ethic
  • Nothing new in the ethics toolbox needed
  • This is a good thing for nanoscience and
    technology
  • Normalization of nanotechnology ethics

27
bioethics.upenn.edu (Penn) www.bioethics.net
(AJOB) wolpep_at_mail.med.upenn.edu
University of Pennsylvania Center for Bioethics
School of Medicine
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