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View Full Version : Nanotechnology Is Morally Unacceptable -- aka Fear That Which You Don't Understand


jAZ
02-22-2008, 11:59 AM
http://blogs.wsj.com/biztech/2008/02/21/nanotechnology-is-morally-unacceptable/?mod=googlenews_wsj

Nanotechnology Is Morally Unacceptable
Posted by Ben Worthen

If you don’t have a super-fast, super-small computer in a few years, blame the moral majority. It turns out that most Americans find nanotechnology, the scientific field most likely to produce such a breakthrough, morally unacceptable.

Tinkering with atoms and molecules could lead to a computing breakthrough
That’s according to researchers at the University of Wisconsin who are studying people’s attitudes towards nanotechnology, an emerging scientific field that involves manipulating molecules and atoms. They found that just 29.5% of the 1,000-plus Americans surveyed said they thought nanotechnology research was morally acceptable.

Our first reaction was that 70% of people must not know what nanotechnology is – President Bush, who has openly relied on moral views to shape his scientific agenda, has made nanotechnology one of his scientific priorities, after all. And Dietram Scheufele, the U of W professor who led the survey, agrees to a point. People’s understanding of what nanotechnology is hasn’t advanced much over the last few years, he tells the Business Technology Blog. “So people rely on mental shortcuts,” lumping nanotechnology in with other new technologies like stem cell research and genetically modified foods, he tells us. The same people who object to those fields – often on religious reasons – object to nanotechnology. (Incidentally, the heathen Europeans are just fine with nanotechnology.)

What’s noteworthy, Schuefele tells us, is that the objections are contained to the field itself, not the breakthroughs it could lead to. Overwhelming majorities across religious backgrounds supported the benefits of nanotechnology, anything from computers the size of a pin to stain-resistant pants. “Most people have very little objection to building a better computer,” Schuefele says. They’d just prefer a different way to get there.

Direckshun
02-22-2008, 12:06 PM
It makes me incredibly uneasy, I won't lie.

Morally? I don't think it's that much of a moral issue, which may lead to the small fraction of people who answered that it was.

Keep in mind, this study doesn't have a finding that "75% of the population answered that nanotechnology was morally unacceptable," it just has the finding that only "29% answered that it was morally acceptable" and ran with that.

So what if we had this question phrased this specific way in the survey:

"Do you find nanotechnology to be:
(a.) Morally acceptable.
(b.) Morally unacceptable.
(c.) Not a moral issue."

I read the article, and for all we know the question could have been phrased that way.

29% could answer (a.). 13% could answer (b.). 60% could answer (c.).

So I think the headline is not supported by the facts.

pikesome
02-22-2008, 12:10 PM
So I think the headline is not supported by the facts.

It doesn't need to be, they could have just titled it "The Religious Are Stupid And Will Cause Us All To Suffer If We Listen To Them".

Baby Lee
02-22-2008, 12:11 PM
If you don’t have a super-fast, super-small computer in a few years, blame the moral majority.
Well, I guess 'republicans made grandma eat dogfood' needed updating for the new millenium.

Cochise
02-22-2008, 12:17 PM
:rolleyes:

FUD

Brock
02-22-2008, 12:29 PM
Sounds like a great use of Wisconsin's tax dollars.

Adept Havelock
02-22-2008, 12:41 PM
Many people have always feared the unknown. It's a primate response that goes back to "what was that bump in the dark outside the cave and will it eat my face?", IMO.

You ought to read some of the screeds that were written at the turn of the 20th century about the evils of Radio, and how it would destroy the moral fiber of this country,

The same claims were made about Cinema, TV, Home Appliances, Etc. :shake:


I have a number of reservations about nanotech, but think it's certainly a field worth investigating.

Bowser
02-22-2008, 12:48 PM
I agree with Adept. Nanotech is definitely worth looking into. But I feel that way about stem cell, as well.

Adept Havelock
02-22-2008, 12:52 PM
I agree with Adept. Nanotech is definitely worth looking into. But I feel that way about stem cell, as well.

I think nanotech has a massive potential payoff, but I can also understand some of the apprehensions. That, or I've read a few too many novels where it gets out of hand and usually ends up digesting us.

Along those lines, may I suggest Alister Reynolds Century Rain. :)

Cochise
02-22-2008, 12:53 PM
I think nanotech has a massive potential payoff, but I can also understand some of the apprehensions. That, or I've read a few too many novels where it gets out of hand and usually ends up digesting us. :)

I am surprised that the more conspiracy-minded aren't worried about the government using them to track us all or whatever.

Baby Lee
02-22-2008, 12:54 PM
Many people have always feared the unknown. It's a primate response that goes back to "what was that bump in the dark outside the cave and will it eat my face?", IMO.

You ought to read some of the screeds that were written at the turn of the 20th century about the evils of Radio, and how it would destroy the moral fiber of this country,

The same claims were made about Cinema, TV, Home Appliances, Etc. :shake:


I have a number of reservations about nanotech, but think it's certainly a field worth investigating.
Well it'll make your life better, but the squares are gonna eff it up. Obama08!!!

Bowser
02-22-2008, 12:55 PM
I am surprised that the more conspiracy-minded aren't worried about the government using them to track us all or whatever.

IT'S THE MARK OF TEH BEEST!!

FD
02-22-2008, 01:00 PM
http://www.reason.com/news/show/120455.html


More Information Confirms What You Already Know

Study says values win over facts when it comes to tech risks

Ronald Bailey | June 12, 2007

A truism among scientists and technologists is that the more the public understands what they do, the more the public will support their activities. The basic idea is that the more people know about science, the more they will love it. However, with regard to nanotechnology, new research published by the Cultural Cognition Project at the Yale Law School casts some doubt on the sunny premise that more information leads to more acceptance.

In the study, "Affect, Values, and Nanotechnology Risk Perceptions: An Experimental Investigation," researchers polled 1,850 Americans about their attitudes toward nanotechnology. Eighty-one percent of those polled had heard nothing at all (53 percent) or "just a little" (28 percent) about nanotechnology. Nevertheless, after being offered a bare bones two-sentence definition of nanotech, 89 percent of respondents had an opinion on whether the benefits (53 percent) of nanotech would outweigh the risks (36 percent). So how could people who know nothing or almost nothing about a new technology have an opinion about its safety? Pre-existing world views, of course. "The driving force behind these snap judgments, we found, was affect: the visceral, emotional responses of our subjects, pro or con, determined how beneficial or dangerous they thought nanotechnology was likely to be," write the authors.

The researchers relying on work by social scientist Aaron Wildavsky divided Americans into four cultural groups with regard to risk perception: hierarchists, individualists, egalitarians and communitarians. Hierarchists trust experts, but believe social deviancy is very risky. Egalitarians and communitarians worry about technology, but think that social deviancy is no big deal. Individualists see risk as opportunity and so are optimistic about technology.

"Egalitarians and communitarians, for example, tend to be sensitive to claims of environmental and technological risks because ameliorating such risks justifies regulating commercial activities that generate inequality and legitimize unconstrained pursuit of self-interest," claim the researchers. "Individualists, in contrast, tend to be skeptical about such risks, in line with their concern to ward off contraction of the sphere of individual initiative. So do hierarchists, who tend to see assertions of environmental technological risks as challenging the competence of governmental and social elites."

Not surprisingly, the researchers found that people who were concerned about environmental risks such as global warming and nuclear power, were also concerned about nanotechnology. However, the Yale Cultural Cognition researchers made another more disheartening discovery. In their poll they gave a subset of 350 respondents additional facts - about two paragraphs -- about nanotechnology to see if more information would shift public risk perceptions. They found that it did. In this case, the more information people had, the more they retreated to their initial positions. Hierarchists and individualists thought nano was less risky, while egalitarians and communitarians thought it was more risky.

"One might suppose that as members of the public learn more about nanotechnology their assessments of its risk and benefits should converge. Our results suggest that exactly the opposite is likely to happen," note the researchers. What seems to be happening is that individuals use information to affirm their pre-existing cultural identities rather than evaluate risks in purely instrumental terms. Think now of the scientists, technologists and yes, regulators who have to try to bridge these diverse cultural values. More specifically they have to figure out how to persuade communitarians and egalitarians that technology somehow affirms their values. And this is no easy task.

History clearly shows technological progress that has been absolutely essential to the creation of wealth and health in the West over the past two centuries has generally provoked resistance from egalitarians and communitarians. Scientists may themselves have cultural barriers to overcome when it comes to talking with egalitarians and communitarians. Scientists often think of themselves culturally as good egalitarians, but as pioneers on the frontiers of knowledge they are operationally individualist. In addition, scientists are supposed to change their minds in the light of new data, not seek out biased information to confirm their pre-existing theories.

Unfortunately, the Cultural Cognition researchers left the problem of how to handle these polarizing cultural values for future research. The "major conclusion" of the study is that "mere dissemination of scientifically sound information is not by itself sufficient to overcome the divisive tendencies of cultural cognition." With regard to nanotechnology, it "could go the route of nuclear power and other controversial technologies, becoming a focal point of culturally infused political conflict."

Basically, tell me your politics and I can tell you what you think about nanotechnology.

Cochise
02-22-2008, 01:02 PM
IT'S THE MARK OF TEH BEEST!!

o noes! teh patriot act is shoving spycameras up our arses!!

Adept Havelock
02-22-2008, 01:07 PM
Basically, tell me your politics and I can tell you what you think about nanotechnology.

Interesting article. Thanks.

Bowser
02-22-2008, 01:08 PM
o noes! teh patriot act is shoving spycameras up our arses!!

"Patriot Act! PATRIOT ACT!! I LOVE IT!!!"

Silock
02-22-2008, 01:43 PM
Uneasy? **** that. Bring on the tiny robots. It would be nice to let them clean out my arteries and repair my heart rather than have doctors stick a giant knife in my chest.

banyon
02-22-2008, 07:31 PM
I think nanotech has a massive potential payoff, but I can also understand some of the apprehensions. That, or I've read a few too many novels where it gets out of hand and usually ends up digesting us.

Along those lines, may I suggest Alister Reynolds Century Rain. :)

For the former, Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age I thought was very good.

'Hamas' Jenkins
02-22-2008, 07:37 PM
You all should read "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" by Bill Joy.

Adept Havelock
02-23-2008, 10:47 AM
You all should read "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" by Bill Joy.

Thanks for the tip. Looks interesting. I'll give it a read later today.

http://www.primitivism.com/future.htm

Mr. Laz
02-23-2008, 11:21 AM
it's funny how things have changed ........ used to be that republicans actually wanted smaller government.

Ruby Ridge,Ruby Ridge!!!


now it's like "government knows what's best for you so STFU"

LMAO

Adept Havelock
02-23-2008, 12:31 PM
it's funny how things have changed ........ used to be that republicans actually wanted smaller government.

Ruby Ridge,Ruby Ridge!!!


now it's like "government knows what's best for you so STFU"

LMAO

To be fair, I believe many still do want to limit govt. influence. I think this movement towards a greater government involvement is from the "Social" conservative end of the movement, not the fiscal or traditional conservatives.

See Mike Huckabee for more details on "I'm gonna get all up in your business" (as Baby Lee once termed it) attitudes.

tiptap
02-23-2008, 12:50 PM
You all should read "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" by Bill Joy.

My son has convinced me that we will only hang on as Cyborgs.

RedDread
02-23-2008, 01:20 PM
I'd rather the government have nothing whatsoever to do with it, honestly.

I don't want them funding it because it gives them a say in restricting it or influencing what is researched.

And I certainly don't want them outlawing it.

However, I don't think it is as controversial as stem cell research. There are a lot of issues with how the stem cells are actually obtained, which is understandable. We shouldn't be growing fetuses in a lab or taking them from living fetuses. Nanotech augmentation should be a bit easier since the experiments could be carried out on participants who agreed to be experimented on.

Rausch
02-23-2008, 01:30 PM
it's funny how things have changed ........ used to be that republicans actually wanted smaller government.

Ruby Ridge,Ruby Ridge!!!


now it's like "government knows what's best for you so STFU"

LMAO

Probably because most Reps. are RINO's and a big part of the true conservative base is disenchanted or voting Libertarian.

SNR
02-23-2008, 04:16 PM
How does some guy who doesn't know what nanotechnology is prevent scientists from continuing to make breakthroughs in the science?

Not only that, last time I checked 30% isn't the majority.

That, and I agree with what Direckshun said.

This is a bullshit article.

Pitt Gorilla
02-23-2008, 05:36 PM
In other news, people are ignorant.

JBucc
02-23-2008, 06:17 PM
Nanobots will eat your poo right out of your colon. No more nasty public bathrooms.

Pitt Gorilla
02-23-2008, 08:29 PM
Nanobots, transform and roll out.

Logical
02-23-2008, 08:55 PM
I think it is potentially an amazing technology and a likely break through in medicine that will rival the vaccine in the futue.

patteeu
02-24-2008, 01:26 PM
it's funny how things have changed ........ used to be that republicans actually wanted smaller government.

Ruby Ridge,Ruby Ridge!!!


now it's like "government knows what's best for you so STFU"

LMAO

With analytical skills like that, you should get a job on a cartoon news program or something.

patteeu
02-24-2008, 01:46 PM
You all should read "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" by Bill Joy.

When I read this post, my first thought was about the Unabomber's manifesto and was surprised to find out how relevant that thought was.

Hydrae
02-24-2008, 06:52 PM
Thanks for the tip. Looks interesting. I'll give it a read later today.

http://www.primitivism.com/future.htm

Wow, long read.

While I can understand the concerns expressed in this article I am not sure there is much that can truely be done about it anyway. If we had not developed and dropped the A-Bomb, someone else would have. I believe that certain points in our technological evolution are basically unavoidable and this is just the next major one coming up. It is like people nearly simulateously inventing radios, air travel, etc even with no knowledge of each other and being in completely seperate parts of the world.

The only other comment off hand from that article is that I think he takes too atruistic a view of humanity. He talks about needing to keep a moral perspective and to leave behind the technology if it proves dangerous to our racial survival. I see people working for companies that they decry all the time. The IRS comes to mind first off. I try to be "moral" at all times but worked for 6 years for a major credit card company while continuing to feel that they are a bad thing for society as a whole and each of us as individuals. That was not enough though to make me turn down the job that best supported my family. This idea that just because an invention can be used in an "evil" manner would lead people to stop developing it is a wonderful idea but does not recognize basic humanity.

mikey23545
02-24-2008, 09:07 PM
Anyone who doesn't realize the inherent dangers as well as benefits of nanotechnology is <i>way</i> too ignorant to be posting on an internet BB about it.

BucEyedPea
02-24-2008, 09:46 PM
I'd rather my consciousness or spirit be inside a robot body instead of an animal one.
It seems like it would be easier to take care of. Just get a tune up every now and then...and perhaps live forever.

patteeu
02-24-2008, 10:22 PM
I'd rather my consciousness or spirit be inside a robot body instead of an animal one.
It seems like it would be easier to take care of. Just get a tune up every now and then...and perhaps live forever.

I'm with you.

htismaqe
02-25-2008, 09:10 AM
I'd rather the government have nothing whatsoever to do with it, honestly.

I don't want them funding it because it gives them a say in restricting it or influencing what is researched.

And I certainly don't want them outlawing it.

However, I don't think it is as controversial as stem cell research. There are a lot of issues with how the stem cells are actually obtained, which is understandable. We shouldn't be growing fetuses in a lab or taking them from living fetuses. Nanotech augmentation should be a bit easier since the experiments could be carried out on participants who agreed to be experimented on.

Part of the reason stem cell research is controversial, outside of the moral/theological discussions, is because the bulk of the funding is going to the type of research, that as of yet, hasn't yielded any results. The stem cell research that IS getting results, is barely registering on the radar because it isn't a champion cause of the big money lobbyists.

Mr. Laz
02-25-2008, 10:54 AM
The Earth is flat, the Earth is flat!!!!!


LA,La,la ... la la la ..... http://img229.imageshack.us/img229/6804/fingersinears2vj9.gif

pikesome
02-25-2008, 11:03 AM
I'd rather my consciousness or spirit be inside a robot body instead of an animal one.
It seems like it would be easier to take care of. Just get a tune up every now and then...and perhaps live forever.

Like this?:
In the novel's quasi-cyberpunk and somewhat dystopian world, human personalities can be stored digitally and downloaded into new bodies, called sleeves. Most people have stacks in their spinal columns that store their memories. If their body dies, their stack can be stored indefinitely. Catholics have arranged that they will not be resleeved as they believe that the soul goes to Heaven when they die, and so would not pass on to the new sleeve. This makes Catholics targets for murder, since killers know their victim will not be resleeved to testify. A UN resolution to alter this legal position forms one strand of the novel's plot, in order to allow the authorities to temporarily sleeve a deceased Catholic woman to testify in a murder trial.

Most people cannot afford to get resleeved more than once per lifetime, so while some people can live indefinitely, only the wealthy are able to acquire replacement bodies on a continual basis. The long-lived are called Meths, short for Methuselahs. The very rich are also able to keep copies of their minds in remote storage, which they update every so often. This ensures that even if their stack is destroyed, they can be resleeved.

It's about the book Altered Carbon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altered_Carbon) by Richard K Morgan. A really, really good book.

petegz28
02-25-2008, 11:08 AM
It is not the technology but what you do with it.

Repubs are Pro-Life yet are big firearm supporters as well.

SO they should know this most of all.

BucEyedPea
02-25-2008, 07:39 PM
Like this?:


It's about the book Altered Carbon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altered_Carbon) by Richard K Morgan. A really, really good book.

Well, after reading that, I can't say that I thought it all the way through....except that I thought I'd be able to control where my consciousness would be able to go. I still believe in free will, afterall.

tiptap
02-25-2008, 10:58 PM
Can you hold your breath as long as you want to? Free Will about some things not about others, including how long one lives naturally. Knowledge would extend that free will but with a new "skin."

Taco John
02-25-2008, 11:10 PM
Can you hold your breath as long as you want to?


I can. Usually that point of want comes at about 40 seconds though. Then every second after that, the urge for want of oxygen gets stronger and stronger. Past a minute, it's REALLY strong.

BucEyedPea
02-26-2008, 08:46 AM
It is not the technology but what you do with it.

Repubs are Pro-Life yet are big firearm supporters as well.

SO they should know this most of all.

The reason repubs support firearms is because they are pro-life. Guns save lives.