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July 24th, 2008
3 open-source challenges: cloud computing, open Web, mobile
But those are just the technology challenges. The open-source community has political power, too, and can shape the future of how technology affects our lives. At least that's the opinion of Christine Peterson, president of Foresight Nanotech Institute.
Petersen largely pays attention to nanotech, but she also draws connections between technology and how it's used. (This is your cue to mutter, "Use this power for good and not for evil.") For example, she explained, dogs can pick up smells from a single molecule; nanotech is heading in that direction. That one item has power for social change. "We tax income," she said. "What if we could tax pollution?"
On the other hand, sewer monitoring has begun. That's good for things that need to be detected, whether because of terrorism or health risks. But some municipalities are using nanotech sewer monitoring to test for illicit drugs. "There's no reason that they couldn't take it to the property line," she said. "You guys are going to have a lot of influence on how this plays out."
Petersen's main message was in regard to the balance between privacy and security. The federal government folks in Washington D.C., tend to ignore the great debates in the community about the social impact, according to Petersen. They go ahead with their plans because they're responsible for protecting us, and the only tools they have are top down tools. But, she says, "They're trying to solve a bottom up problem with top down tools."
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