We hear lots of predictions that nanotechnology could drive the ‘next industrial revolution’, or ‘transform every aspect of our lives’. We hear less discussion about whether or not we should take such predictions seriously, or what social consequences they might bring. In a chapter published in the 2008 “Yearbook of Nanotechnology in Society”, FoEA’s Georgia Miller explores some of these issues, asks what we can learn from the last industrial revolution, and looks at what’s driving nanotechnology development today.
Georgia suggests that despite proponents’ claims that nanotechnology will deliver key social and environmental benefits, research spending and products released so far demonstrate the primacy of the profit motive in guiding nanotechnology development. Georgia argues that the most important challenge, given a nanotechnology ‘revolution’ being driven by public money, is to democratise its development.
This article was originally published as: Miller, G. (2008), Chapter 19 In Eds. E. Fisher, C. Selin and J. Wetmore “Yearbook of Nanotechnology in Society, Volume 1: Presenting Futures