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Ethical Administration of Nanotechnology


Nanotechnology presents a wide range of problems and opportunities: not just diverse issues, but different kinds of issues. These issues must be addressed by more than one kind of organization, based on more than one system of ethics. Guardian ethics, embodying force and caution, will be necessary to avoid the worst risks and dangers of nanotech. Commercial ethics, designed to maximize profit, will be most effective in funding development, solving problems, and building markets. Information ethics are well suited for situations that allow unlimited benefit from unlimited copying; the full potential of almost-free nanotech-based manufacturing cannot be achieved without them. This paper considers the foregoing points in detail, contrasting the three ethical systems and applying each system to an appropriate subset of the issues created by moderately advanced nanotechnology. In addition, it makes a concrete recommendation for a project that all types of organizations can work together on: an infrastructure of nanofactories should be created as soon as possible, to be regulated by Guardian organizations, exploited by Commercial organizations, and used freely by Information organizations to deliver the benefits of nanotech while controlling the risks. The alternative is an artificial scarcity leading to an unregulated black market and substantial preventable poverty. (This paper builds on concepts developed in my paper, "Three Systems Of Ethics For Diverse Applications," available at no charge from this web site.)

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