State Department Fellow: public involvement in nanotech poses challenges
Professor Edward Samulski, Jefferson Science Fellow at the US State Department, continues his online webchat about the implications of nanotechnology, which I posted about earlier this week. Here's our exchange on the subject of interaction between nanoscientists and the public.
"Do you think many other nanoscientists share your commitment to public input in the development of nanotechnology? What means are available to nanoscientists who want more public input to their work, and what means are available to members of the public who want a greater say in nanotech's development?"
Edward Samulski replies:
"Dr. Elvin, I do think that today, by and large, scientists are more cognizant of the broader impacts of their discoveries than they were in earlier generations. Perhaps Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring" led the way to this increased awareness. And, the public's reaction, especially in Europe, to genetically-modified foods is another indicator that the public must be "in the loop" as we go forward with new technologies. Your own website www.nanotechbuzz.com is an example of a contemporary means of sensitizing folks to advances in nanotechnology. And, representatives of the public respond when questions arise–there are on-going hearings in the Congress about nanotech-related issues. But involving the public in a meaningful way can be challenging especially when science illiteracy is so prevalent. It is incumbent on scientists like yourself to translate discoveries into accessible formats and to separate hype from fact so that technological advances are not retarded by misconceptions."
I hope you'll join the discussion, which runs through this Friday. Visit my earlier post for registration and details.