Week 9/Nanotechnology’s Two Sides/Jay Park

Nanotechnology is hailed as the future of our technological advances. Indeed, the abilities of nanotechnology seems endlessly beneficial for not only the human race, but for the environment as well.  The medicinal and environmental capabilities can only be attributed to the awesome potential that nanotechnology offers. However, this is precisely the point like in all other instances of discovering and attempting to harness great power, where man must tread carefully. The excitement over nanotechnology has most people oblivious to the countermeasures of the beneficial products the same technology can just as easily produce. For each potential benefit, there is a potential risk.

                Nanotechnology can create molecular level robotics that can be injected into patients to treat many kinds of diseases. Nanorobots can perform dialysis on a routinely basis with only the recyclable power of our body temperature. However, the same technology that can save our lives can effectly destroy our lives. Biohazardous nanorobots can be used as effective weapons of terrorism. The same nanorobots used to clean our blood can be reprogrammed to destroy our blood. There will be no more need for bullets and bombs, when a more efficient and stealthy assassin can be simply inhaled or injected. It is not only the dangers of malicious intent that should stall nanotechnology, but the inequality that the technology can promote. At the forefront of technology, medical nanotech might only be affordable to certain classes. The nanorobots can be redesigned to artificially increase braincell production, increase memory capacity, increase growth or even improve athletic abilities. The implications of the inequality that can result from the wide use of the technology is only shortsighted to the overall artificial evolution that can take place because of it. Nanotechnology can be used in infinite ways that would change the very biochemistry and essence of being humans.

                Economically speaking, the advances in nanotechnology can deeply impact the market that can lead to economic disruption and artificial price inflation.  The benefits of nanotechnology in our agricultural industry is evident, but the risks are often laid down and silenced. Crops can harness the power of nanotechnology and utilize nanorobots to help protect the fields against pests, improve the quality of soil, and even support the crops in supernatural growth. Besides the obvious effects and dangers to the natural equilibrium, the markets would have a disastrous time coping with the dramatic changes in prices due to minimalized labor and production costs.  Farmers wouldn’t have to tend their crops as nanorobots would remove the necessity of labor as it performs the duties of pesticide, fertilizer, and laborer all in one.  Jobs would disappear, but more importantly, humanities dependence technology will only exponentially increase. This sudden and accelerated dependency on technology will only hamper our abilities to respond to presence of danger and risk inherent in that technology, and can leave us helplessly accepting the risks.

                Nanotechnology can have a lasting impact on global politics as well, as the economic and weaponized products of nanotechnology alters the balance of power and reshapes the atmosphere of political agendas. But, by no means is the message being sent to stay clear of nanotechnology. It is simply a caveat of utilizing a great power. Involved with the development and pursuit of nanotechnology, a thorough system of checks and balances must be in place to keep the technology from straying down the wrong path.  However, this idea of subjugating the technology to multi-layered scrutiny does lack appeal to those ambitious for the technology even in the purest of altruistic intent.  The potential of nanotechnology can be hampered, if not altogether stunted in progress, if the restrictions and restraints implemented onto the technology is too strict. In the end, a balance must be acheived for efficiently allowing nanotechnology to safely operate.  This will be a difficult task for the review boards and councils created in the future to oversee nanotechnological operations. But, it will be a cost and trouble well worth the prevention of disasters that can come out of nanotechnology.



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