While presenting at the AAAS Science and Technology in Society Graduate Conference this past weekend, I met Ruben Rodriques, a Political Science grad student from Northeastern University. Ruben is a researcher at the Nanotechnology and Society Research Group, an exciting project “dedicated to the study of the societal dimensions of nanotechnology research, development, application and commercialization.” Ruben’s paper, “The Implications of High-Rate Nanomanufacturing on Society and Personal Privacy,” focused on the value implications of nanosensors:
High-Rate Nanomanufacturing hopes to enable the large-scale and economically feasible production of nanoscale electronic and mechanical devices. I will take a look at the possible benefits and problems associated with successful High-Rate Nanomanufacturing technologies. A special focus will be given to the cost-effective production of nanosensors and their implications on personal privacy. Nanosensors and nanoscale surveillance equipment small enough to avoid detection by the naked eye and that are produced cheaply enough could be used as tracking or listening devices. There may be useful applications of such technologies in defense, intelligence, and crime fighting circles; however, wide spread availability and abuse of such sensors is a cause for concern. Existing legislation concerning technology and privacy will be reviewed and possible courses of action for placating any negative effects of nanomanufacting on personal privacy considered.