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Nanotechnology Policy White Papers

Christine Peterson
Vice President

As a nonprofit public foundation with the goal of promoting beneficial nanotechnology, Foresight Institute has included the development of public policy recommendations in its work since the beginning. Current work focuses on the Foresight Nanotech Challenges and public policy tools that can affect them, especially issues in intellectual property and research funding.

In our policy work we implement our organization’s values of openness, good science, and respect for public involvement. We attempt to take a moderate, non-partisan stance, examining both expected benefits and possible downsides to technology and suggesting ways to maximize the former and minimize the latter. Our timeframe of interest is broader than some other participants in the nanotech policy debates, ranging from near term to very long term.

Policy development within Foresight begins with an informal process of consensus through discussion among the board, staff, advisors, members, and the public, both online and at our annual conferences. Based on established scientific fact and projected technological possibilities, we develop potential scenarios and policy options likely to affect these in positive ways. We then spread and test these ideas by interacting with the public, researchers, and policymakers via the web, lectures, testimony, journal articles, and white papers.

Foresight actively collaborates with other organizations on policy development, such as the Nano and the Poor project by the Meridian Institute, and intellectual property and public outreach work by the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology.

Foresight welcomes proposals for policy projects from other organizations and individuals. Rather than a formal application, we request an informal email to giving the proposed topic, author(s), collaborating organization(s) if any, and suggestions on sources of grants or other funding to support the work. We especially welcome collaborative projects.

Sample work on Foresight Nanotech Challenges and related public policy issues by Foresight directors, staff, and associates, including relevant papers presented at Foresight Conferences:

"Applying Nanotechnology to the Challenges of Global Poverty"
"Nanotechnology for Clean Energy and Resources"
"Nanotechnology, Resources, and Pollution Control"
"Balancing the National Nanotechnology Initiative's R&D Portfolio"
"Testimony to U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space hearing on New Technologies for a Sustainable World"
"Testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Subcommittee on Basic Research"
"Testimony for the Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives"
"Testimony on Societal Implications of Nanotechnology for the U.S. House Committee on Science"
"The Future of Nanotechnology: Molecular Manufacturing"
"Nanotechnology: from Feynman to Funding"
"Open Sourcing Nanotechnology Research and Development: Issues and Opportunities"
"Safe exponential manufacturing"
"Environmental regulation of nanotechnology: Some preliminary observations"
"Nanotechnology and regulatory policy: Three futures"
"Legal problems of nanotechnology: An overview"
"Nanotechnology: from Feynman to the Grand Challenge of Molecular Manufacturing", IEEE Technology and Society publication abstract, PDF
"Foresight Guidelines Version 6.0: Foresight Guidelines for Responsible Nanotechnology Development"
"Assessing the Potential of Molecular Nanotechnology for Space Operations"
"Molecular Nanotechnology for Space Operations"
"Strategies and Survival"
"Safety, Accidents, and Abuse"

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