" its power to exploit the potential of extremely small-scale systems is outrunning our capacity to digest its implications" (Kirby, 2003, para 3).
Nanotechnology is a very real prospect for the world, and can possibly occur within the next century. To be prepared for this "revolution" we need to address several key issues in policy. This preparation is vital, especially due to the extreme nature of investments, and accelerated workings in the nanotech research field. .
There are a multitude of issues surrounding nanotech, including, but not limited to, issues of safety, need fulfillment, accountability, control, the "gray goo" problem (which refers to the likelihood of self-replicating rogue nano-machines feeding off the biosphere) and resistance from nature. Safety, control and the "gray goo" problem refer to rogue machines, but also refer to the need (or lack thereof) for humans in an intelligent robotic society; Need fulfillment refers to why we need this technology; and accountability refers to the issue of moral uses of the technology (will this technology unfairly infringe on citizen's privacy, as an example.) This potential technology is frightening, as even the most astute scientists cannot fully explain just what this new technology may mean for the world. One thing for sure however, is that the world we live in will be radically changed, some predict almost instantaneously, from the "break-through" of nanotech (the ability to manufacture "assemblers" is seen as the breakthrough point) onwards.
Information is needed to enlighten citizens of the potential dangers and benefits of the technology, which tax payers are funding. In addition to the dangers of nanotech applications, there are also opportunity costs, a huge spending increase in education and healthcare are examples. Informing the public on the current and future situation of nanotech, the how and the why, should be a priority.