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August 06, 2006

The Nano Cafe

Nano CafesMadison's Fair Trade Coffee house became a Nano Cafe last Tuesday evening, when we joined a group of about 40 to talk nanotech. We weren't luddites meeting in secret and did not whisper conspiracies. In fact, the only thing revolutionary about the meeting was its openness. We were there as citizens to talk democratically with the experts about the integration of nanotechnology into our society.

Science and technology are hugely important to people's lives, but the public participates little in their making. Clark Miller, head of the Nanotechnology and Society Initiative, led the discussion and stated that:

Most people don't always know how much science affects their lives, and scientists and policymakers rarely ask them what they think about it. The Nano Cafés will give people access to the normally somewhat mysterious realm of science research and bring them into a lively conversation about the impact of recent research.

The first Nano Café focused on the big picture of nanotechnology-what it is, who does it, and what its stakes are. Public participants will determine the topics of future Cafés, which will be more like a conversation than a lecture.

Nanotech will be everywhere. And while you know a nuclear power plant when you see one, nanotechnology will permeate the most mundane products. From tennis balls that don't lose their bounce to clear sunscreens, nanotechnology is already appearing on the store shelves. Unanswered questions, however, surround nanotech's health and environmental safety, making an open discussion a crucial part in its future.

Nano Cafés are one way to democratize nanotechnology in order to escape the rancor around nuclear power and genetic engineering. But unlike these technologies that opened to public discussion after their course was set, the public has a chance to steer nanotech in its earliest stages. Early discussions will be essential to accelerate the delivery of the most vital applications and duck the worst risks of a technology that may become as influential to the 21st century as automobiles were to the 20th...

Via WorldChanging: Another World Is Here

Originally posted by Jeremy Faludi from WorldChanging: Another World Is Here, ReBlogged by cat on Aug 6, 2006 at 10:59 AM