I am working on a foresight project around the governance of new technologies and looking at lessons from nano in particular.
The most fun part of scenarios development is always the bit where you develop a dire situation where something goes badly wrong, disaster ensues and everything goes pear-shaped. But unlike many such scenarios, we want to make it a scientifically plausible problem within 10-15 years – not just ‘a nano material is proven not to be what we thought it was sometime in the future – boom!’
I thought this would be fairly straightforward, after all we are working with and consulting some of the foremost independent scientists, toxicologists, nanomaterials specialists in the whole wide world. I was also involved with a joint project with Prof Andrew Maynard at Michigan Risk Science Centre where we explored with a group of knowledgeable experts in different fields, health and environmental risk based scenarios of specific plausible future nano and nano-bio enhanced products (see his blog here, I’m taking the pic!). We struggled. I still have nothing at all.
I rather lazily thought I would fall back on a nano silver, antibacterial proliferation scenario, which I now find is not really scientifically plausible either. CNT’s, everyone is all over that one, so not so plausible now. Ti02 – also not realistically I am told. Cadmium selenide quantum dots? – maybe, but who would use them for what realistic purpose where exposure could be widespread?
I need help! If you have anything plausible to offer, please do post it below. If others feel these are either not plausible or something important has been missed, it would be great to hear that too! I am obviously also conscious that I could be falling into some sort of cognitive trap of thinking everything’s OK when it isn’t! This is tricky stuff!
If you are shy and would rather email me I’m on email@example.com and I will post it here anonymously.
I have until early November to identify something and Andrew may be persuaded to comment on specifics if necessary. Let rip people!