Kristen Kulinowski – Rice University


Nanotechnology has tremendous potential to improve human health and the environment; however, it could also have unintended impacts. Nanoparticles’ ability to penetrate into living cells could be exploited to produce a new drug, or it could result in toxicity. Nanomaterials could be used to produce cheap and energy efficient filters that improve drinking water quality, or they could become environmental contaminants. Given the breadth of materials and devices that fall under the broad umbrella of nanotechnology, all of these outcomes may result to one extent or another. Despite the massive amount of money that supports nanotechnology research and development, i.e., the development of new applications, little research has been done on potential implications.

From the Paper’s Conclusion

Topics of Interest to the SENCER Community

The essay argues that nanotechnology is an excellent subject for SENCER courses for the following reasons:

An explanation of nanotechnology as an emerging field that has controversial applications

  • Includes a definition of nanotechnology.
  • Provides a brief history of the field.
  • Outlines potential benefits to public health, computing, and manufacturing.

The role of nanotechnology is such controversial subjects as genetically modified foods, gene therapy, and artificial intelligence

Finally, the author outlines the criticisms of nanotechnology’s potential to increase global economic inequality, social inequality and endanger personal freedoms

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