Drexler Warns Terror Symposium: Nanotech Has ‘Extreme Downsides’

December 19, 2001 | Source: Small Times

The scientist who coined the term nanotechnology warned Tuesday that development of “extremely powerful, extremely dangerous technologies” must be shepherded by stewards tutored in both its promise and its peril.
“One of my profound hopes is that the new spirit of seriousness about life and death issues that we see in the wake of Sept. 11…will encourage people to pay a little less attention to politics and a little more attention to reality,” said Eric Drexler during a symposium about science’s role in the war on terrorism. Drexler is founder and chairman of the Foresight Institute, a nonprofit educational organization established to help society
prepare for advanced technologies.

“This is a technology which can reasonably be described as extreme in all directions: extreme upsides, extreme downsides.”

He added: “Those of us who are trying to envision a world in which we go through this next great technological transition are still very uncomfortable with it. There’s much to be concerned about.”

Drexler said that many scientists eagerly slapped the term “nanotechnology” on their research when it was viewed as “sexy,” but became “a little upset to find that they had a label on their work that was associated with outrageous, science-fictiony sounding claims about the future and scary scenarios and other things.”