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Converging technologies at the nanoscale: the making of a new world?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007 - 23:00
The design of artefacts commonly involves the convergence of many technologies; this re-mains true for artefacts now being created at the nanoscale. However, round about 2000 the phrase ???converging technologies??? acquired a special interpretation related to the convergence of biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology and cognitive science (acronym BNIC) for the improvement of ???human performance.??? At about the same time other studies were promoted by the NSF and many other organisations relating to the consequences of the nanotechnology element of BNIC and its widening use in the creation of products and services. Exaggerated forecasts soon followed for the value of innovatory markets for nano-artefacts or artefacts highly dependent on the various emergent nanoscale technologies. These artefacts and technological processes were impugned as ???a threat to humanity??? rather than being likely to improve human performance, indeed that phrase was seen to be morally questionable. Many of these activities have resulted from a collision between chemistry and biology, and engineering and physics, especially where the latter have been related to micro-mechanical devices and electronics. The presentation will explore this collision and whether it may be leading to the beginnings of a ???new world??? by 2030.