Nanoparticle Toxicity dropped from the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report

January 12, 2011

As I report on the Risk Science Blog, the latest iteration of the World Economic Forum Global Risks Report has dropped “Nanoparticle Toxicity” as an emerging and significant risk.  Instead, the far more generic “Threats from New Technologies” takes its place. This is a welcome move – but I do have ...

US National Nanotechnology Initiative draft EHS Strategy – good in part

January 4, 2011

Update 1/6/11: The comment period has been extended to January 21 There are only two days left to comment on the current draft US National Nanotechnology Initiative Environmental, Health and Safety strategy (the comment period closes January 6) – so time to read the draft, log in to the portal and ...

A bluffer’s guide to Risk Science in the 21st century

January 4, 2011

A few weeks ago, I gave a talk at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati under the slightly provocative title “Small Gods and the Art of Technology Innovation”.  The talk is now available on-line (slides and audio at least) – and viewable below – through the excellent work of the ...

The geopolitics of nanotechnology – an ideaological counterweight from ETC?

December 22, 2010

Getting an unbiased perspective on nanotechnology is probably as close to impossible as you can get.  Governments invest in nanotech because they believe in its ability to inspire new research and stimulate economies and social change.  Corporations invest in nanotech because they think it will give them an edge in ...

The art of risk science

December 15, 2010

I’m feeling a little lazy today, so this is a cross-posting from the University of Michigan Risk Science Center newsletter.  It draws in part on the talk I gave at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center this past weekend as part of their “where do we go from here?” series.  The ...

The NNI at 10 – did I really say that?

December 8, 2010

I must have been just a little worked up when I spoke with Gwyneth Shaw at the New Haven Independent a couple of weeks ago on nanotechnology.  I’m usually fairly circumspect with my comments to reporters (OK, so I know some readers have just spattered their coffee across the computer ...

US Nanotechnology Environmental, Health & Safety Research Strategy open for comment

December 6, 2010

The US National Nanotechnology Initiative’s latest iteration of its Environmental, Health and Safety Research Strategy has just been posted on-line for public comment.  Between now and January 6, anyone who is interested is encouraged to read the draft and comment on the on-line portal – hopefully sparking a dialogue which ...

Small gods and the art of technology innovation

December 6, 2010

There’s something rather liberating about being asked to give a no-holds talk on your perspective on life, the universe and everything.  So when the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center asked if I would speak as part of their “Where do we go from here?” series, I jumped at it. No holds barred ...

Emerging technologies at the World Economic Forum – rethinking integrative approaches to global risks

November 30, 2010

In an interconnected world, global issues demand integrative solutions.  It’s a statement that many people would agree with – in systems where associations between cause and effect are complex, you ignore synergistic inter-relationships between factors at your peril. But when it comes to technology innovation, it seems that the rules don’t ...

Reviewing the National Nanotechnology Initiative Strategic Plan – Twitter on steroids?

November 27, 2010

Here’s a bit of trivia: with the 4000 character limit on comments on the National Nanotechnology Initiative Draft Strategic Plan, you might as well ditch the official portal, and tweet your comments to the Office of Science and Technology Policy – 28 tweets would do it! As you can probably guess, ...

Nanotechnology, climate and energy: over-heated promises and hot air?

November 16, 2010

Friends of the Earth have just released a new report challenging claims that nanotechnology will lead to greener, more energy-efficient technologies, lower-impact technologies. I’ve only had the chance to skim through the report so far, and so don’t have detailed comments on it.  But on my initial skim a number of ...

Basic research and personal responsibility

November 11, 2010

Dan Sarewitz has a rather provocative commentary in Nature this morning, where he suggests that proposals to increase basic research may be good politics, but questionable policy. The headline alone is probably enough to get some science-advocates’ blood boiling, whether they go on to read the piece or not: “Double trouble? ...

International Handbook on Regulating Nanotechnologies – sneak peak of contents

November 4, 2010

Back in the mists of time, I was approached with a crazy proposition – would I help co-edit a book on nanotechnologies regulation!  In a moment of weakness I said yes, and a little more than two and a half years later, the book is finally about to hit the ...

Nanotechnology prominent in percieved 21st century science & engineering advancements

November 4, 2010

This image from the first US National Science and Engineering Festival attracted my attention this morning: It’s a wordle constructed from responses to the question “What will be the greatest discoveries and advancements science and engineering will bring us in the 21st century?” What grabbed my attention was the prominence of nanotechnology ...

Spiders, silk and a transgenic goat – the complex art of science communication

November 2, 2010

Last week while at the NISE Net network-wide meeting, I was fortunate enough to see a preview of part of NOVA’s forthcoming series Making Stuff. The series focuses on the wonders of modern materials science. But rather than coming away enthralled by the ingenuity of scientists, I found myself breaking ...

What happens when you cross a spider with a goat? Complete the story:

October 27, 2010

Complete the following: Setting: A well known and sometimes off-beat technology commentator explores new breakthroughs on a popular TV science and tech show. Story: Spiders’ silk is incredibly strong, but in short supply (ever tried harvesting silk from a spider?). So why not take the gene responsible for making spider silk, and splice it ...

Beyond the obvious – lessons from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

October 25, 2010

The immediate lessons from the Deepwater Horizon disaster are pretty obvious – we (or at least somebody) messed up!  But what about the less-obvious lessons – especially those concerning technology innovation and how it’s handled?  The Fall 2010 issue of Findings – the University of Michigan School of Public Health ...

Limited resources and emerging technologies: China does the math

October 20, 2010

New technologies depend on uncommon materials, and society depends on new technologies.  Which means that economies that develop the former and control the latter have something of an upper hand in today’s interconnected and technology-dependent world. This has clearly not escaped the notice of the Chinese.  China, which controls around 90% ...

Science and the Media – a collection of essays from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

October 16, 2010

Back in August, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences published a collection of essays under the editorship of Donald Kennedy and Geneva Overholster on the (seemingly) increasingly strained relationship between science and the media.  I was too embroiled in the move to Michigan at the time to pay it ...

Rehabilitating “Risk”

October 14, 2010

Now that I’ve had some time to get to grips with my new position as Director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center, I thought it was high time I started letting people know something about where the Center will be heading over the next few years.  Cross-posted on ...