Nanotech is inevitable --- U.S. leadership is key to stable development --- checks gray goo, super-weapons, and eco-collapseDennis 6 (Lindsay V., JD Candidate â€“ Temple University School of Law, â€œNanotechnology: Unique Science Requires Unique Solutionsâ€, Temple Journal of Science, Technology & Environmental Law, Spring, 25 Temp. J. Sci. Tech. & Envtl. L. 87, Lexis)
Nanotechnology, a newly developing field merging science and technology, promises a future of open-ended potential. 6 Its scientific limits are unknown, and its myriad uses cross the boundaries of the technical, mechanical and medical fields. 7 Substantial research 8 has led scientists, 9 politicians 10 and academicians 11 to believe that nanotechnology has the potential to profoundly change the economy and to improve the national standard of living. 12 In addition, nanotechnology may touch every facet of human life because its products cross the boundaries of the most important industries, including electronics, biomedical and pharmaceutical [*89] industries, and energy production. 13 In the future, nanotechnology could ensure longer, healthier lives with the reduction or elimination of life-threatening diseases, 14 a cleaner planet with pollution remediation and emission-free energy, 15 and the innumerable benefits of increased information technology. 16 However, certain uses, such as advanced drug delivery systems, 17 have given rise to an ethical debate similar to that surrounding cloning and stem cell research. 18 Moreover, some analysts have theorized that nanotechnology may endanger humankind with more dangerous warfare and weapons of terrorism, 19 and that nanotechnology may lead to artificial intelligence beyond human control. 20 The widespread use of nanotechnology far in the future threatens to alter the societal framework and create what has been called "gray goo." 21 Because nanotechnology has the potential to improve the products that most of us rely on in our daily lives, but also imperil society as we know it, we should research, monitor and regulate nanotechnology for the public good with trustworthy systems, and set up pervasive controls over its research, development, and deployment. In addition, its substantial impacts on existing regulations should be ascertained, and solutions incorporated into the regulatory framework. This paper addresses these concerns and provides potential solutions. Part I outlines the development of nanotechnology. Parts II and III explore the current and theoretical future applications of nanotechnology, and its potential side-effects. Then, Part IV analyzes the government's current role in monitoring nanotechnology, and the regulatory mechanisms available to manage or eliminate the negative implications of nanotechnology. Part V considers the creation of an Emerging Technologies Department as a possible solution to maximize the benefits and minimize the detrimental effects of nanotechnology. Lastly, Part VI examines certain environmental regulations to provide an example of nanotechnology's impact on existing regulatory schema. [*90] Part I: Nanotechnology Defined Nanoscience is the study of the fundamental principles of molecules and structures with at least one dimension roughly between 1 and 100 nanometers (one-billionth of a meter, or 10[su'-9']), otherwise known as the "nanoscale." 22 Called nanostructures, these are the smallest solid things possible to make. 23 Nanofabrication, or nanoscale manufacturing, is the process by which nanostructures are built. 24 Top-down nanofabrication creates nanostructures by taking a large structure and making it smaller, whereas bottom-up nanofabrication starts with individual atoms to build nanostructures. 25 Nanotechnology applies nanostructures into useful nanoscale devices. 26 The nanoscale is distinctive because it is the size scale where the properties of materials like conductivity, 27 hardness, 28 or melting point 29 are no longer similar to the properties of these same materials at the macro level. 30 Atom interactions, averaged out of existence in bulk material, give rise to unique properties. 31 In [*91] nanotech research, scientists take advantage of these unique properties to develop products with applications that would not otherwise be available. 32 Although some products using nanotechnology are currently on the market, 33 nanotechnology is primarily in the research and development stage. 34 Because nanoparticles are remarkably small, tools specific to nanotechnology have been created to develop useful nanostructures and devices. 35 Two techniques exclusive to nanotechnology are self-assembly, and nanofabrication using nanotubes and nanorods. 36 [*92] In self-assembly, particular atoms or molecules are put on a surface or preconstructed nanostructure, causing the molecules to align themselves into particular positions. 37 Although self-assembly is "probably the most important of the nanoscale fabrication techniques because of its generality, its ability to produce structures at different length-scales, and its low cost," 38 most nanostructures are built starting with larger molecules as components. 39 Nanotubes 40 and nanorods, 41 the first true nanomaterials engineered at the molecular level, are two examples of these building blocks. 42 They exhibit astounding physical and electrical properties. 43 Certain nanotubes have tensile strength in excess of 60 times high-grade steel while remaining light and flexible. 44 Currently, nanotubes are used in tennis rackets and golf clubs to make them lighter and stronger. 45 Part II: Nanotechnology's Uses Researching and manipulating the properties of nanostructures are important for a number of reasons, including, most basically, to gain an understanding of how matter is constructed, and more practically, to use these unique properties to develop unique products. 46 Nanoproducts can be divided into four general categories: 47 smart materials, 48 sensors, 49 biomedical applications, 50 and optics and electronics. 51 [*93] A "smart" material incorporates in its design a capability to perform several specific tasks. 52 In nanotechnology, that design is done at the molecular level. 53 Clothing, enhanced with nanotechnology, is a useful application of a smart material at the nanoscale. Certain nano-enhanced clothing contains fibers that have tiny whiskers that repel liquids, reduce static and resist stains without affecting feel. 54 Nano-enhanced rubber represents another application of a nanoscale smart material. 55 Tires using nanotech-components increase skid resistance by reducing friction, which reduces abrasion and makes the tires last longer. 56 The tires may be on the market "in the next few years" according to the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). 57 Theoretically, this rubber could be used on a variety of products, ranging from tires to windshield wiper blades to athletic shoes. 58 A more complex nanotechnology smart material is a photorefractive polymer. 59 Acting as a nanoscale "barcode," these polymers could be used as information storage devices with a storage density exceeding the best available magnetic storage structures. 60 Nano-sensors may "revolutionize much of the medical care and the food packaging industries," 61 as well as the environmental field because of their ability to detect toxins and pollutants at fewer than ten molecules. 62 As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes: Protection of human health and ecosystems requires rapid, precise sensors capable of detecting pollutants at the molecular level. Major improvements in process control, compliance monitoring, and environmental decision-making could [*94] be achieved if more accurate, less costly, more sensitive techniques were available. Nanotechnology offers the possibility of sensors enabled to be selective or specific, detect multiple analytes, and monitor their presence in real time. 63 Examples of research in sensors include the development of nano-sensors for efficient and rapid biochemical detection of pollutants; sensors capable of continuous measurement over large areas; integration of nano-enabled sensors for real-time continuous monitoring; and sensors that utilize "lab-on-a-chip" technology. 64 All fundamental life processes occur at the nanoscale, making it the ideal scale at which to fight diseases. 65 Two quintessential examples of biomedical applications of nanotechnology are advanced drug delivery systems and nano-enhanced drugs. 66 The promise of advanced drug delivery systems lies in that they direct drug molecules only to where they are needed in the body. 67 One example is focusing chemotherapy on the site of the tumor, instead of the whole body, thereby improving the drug's effectiveness while decreasing its unpleasant side-effects. 68 Other researchers are working to develop nanoparticles that target and trick cancer cells into absorbing certain nanoparticles. 69 These nanoparticles would then kill tumors from within, avoiding the destruction of healthy cells, as opposed to the indiscriminate damage caused by traditional chemotherapy. 70 Nano-enhanced suicide inhibitors 71 limit enzymatic activity by forcing naturally occurring enzymes to form bonds with the nanostructured molecule. 72 This may treat conditions such as epilepsy and depression because of the enzyme action component involved in these conditions. 73 Lastly, nanotechnology has the potential to revolutionize the electronics and optics fields. 74 For instance, nanotechnology has the potential to produce clean, [*95] renewable solar power. 75 Through a process called artificial photosynthesis, solar energy is produced by using nanostructures based on molecules which capture light and separate positive and negative charges. 76 Certain Swiss watches and bathroom scales are illuminated through a nanotech procedure that transforms captured sunlight into an electrical current. 77 In the electronics field, nanostructures offer many different ways to increase memory storage by substantially reducing the size of memory bits and thereby increasing the density of magnetic memory, increasing efficiency, and decreasing cost. 78 One example is storing memory bits as magnetic nanodots, which can be reduced in size until they reach the super-paramagnetic limit, the smallest possible magnetic memory structure. 79 Advances in electronics and computing brought on by nanotechnology could allow reconfigurable, "thinking" spacecraft. 80 Some uses of nano-products already on the market include suntan lotions and skin creams, tennis balls that bounce longer, faster-burning rocket fuel additives, and new cancer treatments. 81 Solar cells in roofing tiles and siding that provide electricity for homes and facilities, and the prototypic tires, supra, may be on the market in the next few years. 82 The industry expects advanced drug delivery systems with implantable devices that automatically administer drugs and sensor drug levels, and medical diagnostic tools such as cancer-tagging mechanisms to be on the market in the next two to five years. 83 It is nearly impossible to foresee what developments to expect in nanotechnology in the decades to come. 84 Nonetheless, the book Engines of Creation presented one vision of the possibilities of advanced nanotechnology. 85 Nano-machines could be designed to construct any product, from mundane items such as a chair, to exciting items such as a rocket engine. 86 These "assemblers" could also be programmed to build copies of themselves. 87 Known as "replicators," these nano-machines could alter the world by producing an exponential quantity of themselves that are to be put to work as assemblers. 88 The development of assemblers could advance the space [*96] exploration program, 89 biomedical field, 90 and even repair the damage done to the world's ecological systems. 91 Over time, production costs may sharply decrease because the assemblers will be able to construct all future products from an original blueprint at virtually no additional cost. 92 Part III: Nanotechnology's Side-Effects With the good, however, comes the bad. The "gray goo problem," the most well-known unwanted potential consequence of the spread of nanotechnology, 93 arises when replicators and assemblers produce almost anything, and subsequently spread uncontrolled, obliterating natural organisms and replacing them with nano-enhanced organisms. 94 A more foreseeable issue is environmental contamination. 95 The EPA noted As nanotechnology progresses from research and development to commercialization and use, it is likely that manufactured nanomaterials and nanoproducts will be released into the environment... . The unique features of manufactured nanomaterials and a lack of experience with these materials hinder the risk evaluation that is needed to inform decisions about pollution prevention, environmental clean-up and other control measures, including regulation. Beyond the usual concerns for most toxic materials ... the adequacy of current toxicity tests for chemicals needs to be assessed ... . To the extent that nanoparticles [*97] ... elicit novel biological responses, these concerns need to be accounted for in toxicity testing to provide relevant information needed for risk assessment to inform decision making. 96 In addition, nanotechnology could change the face of global warfare and terrorism. 97 Assemblers could be used to duplicate existing weapons out of superior materials, and chemical and biological weapons could be created with nano-enhanced components. 98 Modern detection systems would be inadequate to detect nano-enhanced weapons built with innocuous materials such as carbon. 99 Luckily, nanotechnology offers responses to these problems, and researchers are already tackling these issues. 100 "Labs-on-a-chip," a sensor system the size of a microchip, could be woven into soldiers' uniforms to detect toxins immediately. 101 Adding smart materials could make soldiers' uniforms resistant to certain chemical and biological agents. 102 Nanotechnology also enhances threats against citizens. Drugs and bugs (electronic surveillance devices) could be used by police states to monitor and control its citizenry. 103 Viruses could be created that target specific genetic characteristics. 104 Not only is the development of technologically advanced, devastating weaponry itself a hazardous effect of nanotechnology, but also, millions of dollars have already been spent researching potential uses of nanotechnology in the military sphere, 105 thus diverting funds from more beneficial uses such as biomedical applications and clean energy. However, these negative effects are not inevitable. By analyzing the scope of potential drawbacks accompanying these research investments, lawmakers can institute regulatory controls that could mitigate these problems. [*98] Part IV: Maximizing Benefits, Minimizing Catastrophe To minimize or eliminate the problems associated with nanotechnology, while maximizing the beneficial effects, nanotechnology research and development should be monitored and regulated by "trustworthy systems." 106 Currently, the federal government oversees a massive funding and research program with the purpose of "ensuring United States global leadership in the development and application of nanotechnology." 107 Nonetheless, as nanotechnology becomes more prevalent, more thorough regulation may be necessary. 108 Nanotechnology may greatly impact some of the largest revenue producing industries in the United States, such as the pharmaceutical and medical fields, utilities and power generation, and computer electronics. 109 Thus, it is clear that nanotechnology will likely touch every facet of human life. In addition, these powerful industries have been known to promote profits over human safety, 110 one of the reasons for their stringent regulation. [*99] The federal government must regulate nanotechnology for the public good as it pertains to these industries. The form and scope of the trustworthy systems are being debated. 111 Each system has its advantages and disadvantages. 112 The system should be accountable to judicial review and public comment, as well as transparent, 113 while minimizing "the traditional laments of the bureaucratic agency: lack of efficiency, duplication of effort, and subjection to Congressional and judicial requirements in enacting regulations." 114 Certain proposals are outlined briefly in this article as examples of what can be done to regulate nanotechnology. Each scenario causes extinctionBostrom 2 (Nice, Ph.D, Professor â€“ Oxford University, and Winner â€“ Eugene R. Gannon Award for the Continued Pursuit of Human Advancement, â€œExistential Risks Analyzing Human Extinction Scenarios and Related Hazardsâ€, Journal of Evolution and Technology, 9, March, http://www.nickbostrom.com/existential/risks.html)
In a mature form, molecular nanotechnology will enable the construction of bacterium-scale self-replicating mechanical robots that can feed on dirt or other organic matter [22-25]. Such replicators could eat up the biosphere or destroy it by other means such as by poisoning it, burning it, or blocking out sunlight. A person of malicious intent in possession of this technology might cause the extinction of intelligent life on Earth by releasing such nanobots into the environment. The technology to produce a destructive nanobot seems considerably easier to develop than the technology to create an effective defense against such an attack (a global nanotech immune system, an â€œactive shieldâ€ ). It is therefore likely that there will be a period of vulnerability during which this technology must be prevented from coming into the wrong hands. Yet the technology could prove hard to regulate, since it doesnâ€™t require rare radioactive isotopes or large, easily identifiable manufacturing plants, as does production of nuclear weapons . Even if effective defenses against a limited nanotech attack are developed before dangerous replicators are designed and acquired by suicidal regimes or terrorists, there will still be the danger of an arms race between states possessing nanotechnology. It has been argued  that molecular manufacturing would lead to both arms race instability and crisis instability, to a higher degree than was the case with nuclear weapons. Arms race instability means that there would be dominant incentives for each competitor to escalate its armaments, leading to a runaway arms race. Crisis instability means that there would be dominant incentives for striking first. Two roughly balanced rivals acquiring nanotechnology would, on this view, begin a massive buildup of armaments and weapons development programs that would continue until a crisis occurs and war breaks out, potentially causing global terminal destruction. That the arms race could have been predicted is no guarantee that an international security system will be created ahead of time to prevent this disaster from happening. The nuclear arms race between the US and the USSR was predicted but occurred nevertheless.