Edinethics Logo

return to Edinethics Home Page

NANOTECHNOLOGY AND ETHICS

Edinethics is a pioneer in the emerging assessment of the ethical and societal issues likely to arise from tomorrow's nanotechnologies and especially in nano-medicine and nanobiotechnology.

Edinethics and Nanotechnology

Dr Bruce is on the Advisory Board of the Stirling-based Institute of Nanotechnology, as its ethical advisor. He is a member of the Societal Issues Panel of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the lead UK research council for nanotechnology. Edinethics is also involved in several EC research programmes concerned with nanotechnology : Nano2Life, NanoBio-Raise and NanoMedRound.

Dr Bruce is a member of the advisory board on ethical, legal and social issues for the EC Nano2Life European Network of Excellence on Nano-biotechnology. This has been a very successful and ground-breaking initiative in having an ethical board engaging with scientists in the emerging technical programme, to offer comment and advice on likely ethical and social implications. Dr Bruce was the lead author of the board's overview scoping study on the the Ethics of Nanobiotechnology.

Edinethics is a partner in NanoBioRaise. This an EC FP6 research programme on the ethical and societal dimensions of nanobiotechnology under the Science and Society theme. He chaired an expert working group on human enhancement, and co-ordinated public engagement programme using the Democs card game, developed with the New Economics Foundation. Reports of these activities are now available Human Enhancement? and Engaging Citizens on Nanobiotechnology using the Democs Game.

Ethics and Nanotechnology

Nanotechnologies seem to offer untold benefits to humanity but they also raise some challenging ethical issues.
  • What will doctor-patient relationships look like if nanobiomarkers mean we can monitor our body functions ourselves.
  • Could nano-scale food additives avoid a re-run of the GM crisis?
  • When have we gone far enough in testing nanoparticles safety?
  • Should we seek to enhance human functions, or is it a misguided or unjust endeavour?
  • In a world of global inequity, what should be the priorities of nanotechnologies?

Martin Luther's blog, Risky Food and Enhanced Humans : Why ethical issues matter in nanotechnologies This Edinethics paper, presented at the COMS2007 conference in Melbourne, steps back and asks what will be the key ethical issues and areas of sensitivity posed by tomorrow's nanotechnologies. What are potential points of synergy or conflict with society? What (and whose) values or world views are driving developments, compared with some revolutions of history hence Martin Luther ...

The Ethics of Nanobiotechnology. This was one of the first reviews of the ethical issue of applications of nanotechnology to medicine and other areas of biotechnology. It was written for Nano2Life, and first presented in Munster (Germany) in March 2005.
A version of this report was published in the Nature publication EMBO Reports Ethical and social issues in nanobiotechnologies. It was also the basis of a feature article by Dr Bruce in the New Scientist of 11 June 2005 'Making the world better'.

For a shorter Edinethics article, see Ethical Issues in Nano-Medicine and Enhancement : an Overview (4 pp).

Human Enhancement?. Should humans be made stronger, smarter, longer-lived, etc....? Edinethics has been working for several years on one of the most challenging future issues in technology, both looking at the ethcis and creating tools for discussing these issues more widely in society. For more see our page on Human Enhancement.



Return to Top of Page
Edinethics Home Page
Nanotechnology main page