Ideologies and nanotechnology
There are many debates about nanotechnology; what it is, what it will make possible, and what its dangers might be. On one level these may seem to be very technical in nature. So a question about whether a Drexler style assembler is technically feasible can rapidly descend into details of surface chemistry, while issues about the possible toxicity of carbon nanotubes turn on the procedures for reliable toxicological screening. But it’s at least arguable that the focus on the technical obscures the real causes of the arguments, which are actually based on clashes of ideology. We supposedly live in a non-ideological age, so what are the ideological divisions that underly debates about nanotechnology? I suggest, for a start, these four ideological positions, each of which implies a very different attitude towards nanotechnology.