Disruptive change triggered by nanotechnology was on the agenda for a recent three-week speaking tour of Australia and New Zealand conducted by Mike Treder, executive director of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN). Between September 2 and September 21, he gave public lectures and held small group discussions on the subject of ‘Disruptive Abundance: Nanotechnology and Human Life’ in twelve cities. “We had big audiences everywhere I went--overflow in some places,” said Treder. “People were very interested to hear about the profound impacts that advanced nanotechnology will bring to society.”
Treder gave public presentations at the Australian National University in Canberra, the capital city of Australia, and at the University of Western Sydney. He also held seminars with university students and faculty in both locations. In Canberra, Treder met with Australian government officials to discuss that country’s plans for a national nanotechnology strategy. In Melbourne, he made a presentation to a group of scientists and researchers from Monash University and from Nanotechnology Victoria, the organization that sponsored his visit to Australia.
An article published by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said, “Within 15 years, desktop nanofactories could pump out anything from a new car to a novel nanoweapon, says a technology commentator… While molecular manufacturing is not yet a reality, Treder says researchers are already working on building molecular-scale machines that could eventually move atoms around to make products.”
Public lectures were given in nine New Zealand cities by Treder just prior to his arrival in Australia. He was the featured speaker in the annual Pickering Lecture Tour, presented by the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ). “Mike's presentations generated a lot of interest in the future impact of nanotechnology across the country,” said IPENZ’s Kathryn McGavin.
Progress in nanotechnology eventually will make it possible to build a wide range of products atom by atom, from the bottom up, using nature’s fundamental building blocks, according to Treder. This will result in a manufacturing revolution, offering the potential for huge gains in quality of life, reductions in poverty, clean energy production, vastly improved infrastructures for computing, communication, transportation, and more. However, it also could lead to severe economic disruption, conflicts over intellectual property, omnipresent surveillance, and a potential widening of the gap between rich and poor. Even more ominous is the possibility of a new arms race.
“No one knows for sure how soon all this will happen,” said Treder. “But our analysis suggests it will be sooner than most people realize. The cost of not being prepared for such disruptive change could be catastrophic. It’s urgent that we invest more in understanding the impacts of this powerful new technology.”
Mike Treder is available for other speaking opportunities, as is Chris Phoenix, Director of Research at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.
About the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (crnano.org), a non-profit think tank concerned with the major societal and environmental implications of advanced nanotechnology, is headquartered in New York. CRN is an affiliate of World Care, an international, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.