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Anticipating ethical challenges: Is there a coming era of nanotechnology?
|Title||Anticipating ethical challenges: Is there a coming era of nanotechnology?|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2005|
|Journal||Ethics and Information Technology|
In this paper the author questions the claims made for a `coming era of nanotechnology' and the ethical challenges, it is argued, that are entailed by this particular technological revolution. This is exemplified by the work of K. Eric Drexler and his claim that whilst the course of scientific knowledge may remain unpredictable we nevertheless can predict with accuracy the trajectory of technology and particularly the emergence of nanotechnology. The problem then, on the basis of knowledge about the future state of technology, is to make choices now that will forestall unintended and undesirable consequences. Firstly, the paper argues for a radical skepticism towards all forms of forecasting or prediction but especially technological forecasting of the type exemplified in the debate around nanotechnology. Secondly, given this radical skepticism the paper criticizes the idea that a prospective ethics can be created on the basis of an assessment of consequences of nanotechnology.