A guest blog by Barbara Herr Harthorn, Director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at the University of California Santa Barbara. A couple of weeks back, my colleague David Guston wrote here about engaging the public on nanotechnology.   In his piece he gave an excellent overview of the US government’s activities – or relative lack of them – on public engagement in this area.  But I also felt that some questions on why we should encourage public participation in nanotechnology in the first place – and how the government should think about approaching this – were left unanswered.  So to continue where David left off, I would like to explore these questions a little further. To start with, why do public deliberation on nanotechnology?  The simplest answers are because it’s the right thing to do, and because it’s a useful thing to do. Let’s take those one at a time:

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