Tuesday, June 03, 2014

EmergingTechs Nanotechnology, Synthetic Biology, and Geoengineering in the Governance Eye

The second annual Governance of Emerging Technologies conference held in Phoenix AZ May 27-29, 2014 discussed a variety of governance (regulation), legal, and ethical aspects of three areas of emerging technology: nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and geoengineering (climate management).

The prevailing attitude in nanotechnology is much like that in artificial intelligence, “no new news” and some degree of weariness after having experienced a few hype-bust cycles, coupled with the invisibility frontier. The invisibility frontier is when an exciting emerging technology becomes so pervasive and widely-deployed that it becomes invisible. There are numerous nanotechnology implementations in a range of fields including materials, computing, structures, nanoparticles, and new methods, similar to the way artificial intelligence deployments are also widely in use but ‘invisible’ in fraud detection, ATM machine operation, data management algorithms, and traffic coordination.

Perhaps the biggest moment of clarity was that different groups of people with different value systems, cultures, and ideals are coming together with more frequency than historically to solve problems. The locus of international interaction is no longer primarily geopolitics, but shifting to be much more one of collaboration between smaller groups in specific contexts who are inventing models for sharing knowledge that simultaneously reconfigure and extend it to different perspectives and value systems.

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