Nanotechnology promises to transform the materials of everyday life, leading to smaller and more powerful computers, more durable plastics and fabrics, cheap and effective water purification systems, more efficient solar panels and storage batteries, and medical devices capable of tracking down and killing cancer cells. Policy analysts predict a radical change in the industrial sector. Yet the nanotechnology revolution is not straightforward. Edited by Director and Principal Investigator Christopher J. Bosso, Governing Uncertainty: Environmental Regulation in the Age of Nanotechnology contains perspectives from economics, history, philosophy, and public policy. This new resource illuminates the challenges inherent in the development of nanotechnology and works toward a reconceptualization of government regulatory approaches.
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Nanotechnology is a continually developing branch of science, one with political, environmental and ethical implications that are not yet fully understood. Among those taking the lead to clarify those issues is Christopher J. Bosso, associate dean of Northeastern’s School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and director and principal investigator for the University’s Nanotechnology and Society Research Group. Bosso is also author of a new book “Governing Uncertainty: Environmental Regulation in the Age of Nanotechnology.” Here, he discusses public policy related to nanotechnology and the potential impact of the fast-growing science, for good and ill.
As Congress considers continued funding for the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) including support for responsible development for nanotechnology, a Northeastern University report funded by the National Science Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies investigates common misconceptions associated with emerging nanotechnologies and emphasizes the importance of attending to ethical issues within ongoing responsible development discourses and efforts.