The Nanotechnology Revolution, Its Ethics And Challenges
The breakthroughs in nanotechnology recent years have led scientists to predict that in the next five years, it will be possible to examine body fluids and filter them for minute bioparticles.
These bioparticles will then be used to reveals signs of diseases like cancer, even before they manifest any symptoms.
This is great news as diseases are easy to manage if they get diagnosed early. In the past, finding diseases was difficult as most of us would wait until we see symptoms. By this time the disease may already have progressed too far.
What is Nanotechnology?
The devil is always in the details. When matter gets manipulated at a subatomic level, it is much easier to understand than it would be in bulk form. Nanotechnology refers to the engineering of systems at the lowest molecular level.
Since elements behave differently at the nanoscale compared to how they do as heavy objects, nanotechnology will help isolate nanoparticles that are toxic. This way, harmful chemicals will be kept from entering the brain through the blood stream.
Treating a disease like cancer is very expensive. In fact, the cost continues to rise. When doctors can diagnose it in its early stages, your chances of financial difficulty will decrease drastically. This is why the strides in nanotechnology have been so positively received.
Benefits Of Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology continues to improve and in many cases revolutionize many industry and technology sectors. The fact that materials can be tailored to extremely molecular levels to provide specific properties has meant that the science toolkit has the potential to be expanded considerably.
Use of nanotechnology will make it possible to make materials lighter, stronger, more reactive, more durable and superior electrical conductors. There is no limit when it comes to some of the improvement that can be made on materials.
Lighter cars, boats, airplanes and trucks will be a catalyst for large-scale fuel savings. At the same time, a combination of conductivity and lightweight makes carbon nanotube sheets ideal for electromagnetic or thermal management.
Some of the industries that continue to benefit from the technology include food safety, medicine, environmental science, energy, transportation and information technology among others.
Challenges And Risks Of Nanotechnology
The advances in nanotechnology have not been without questions from concerned quarters. There have been some concerns, and it will take some convincing to get all the naysayers on board. Here are some of the concerns:
(1) The Ethics Question
The use of this technology in medicine could mean that humans will be able to enhance themselves physically. The fact that not everyone will be able to afford it initially could lead to wealthy people being able to modify themselves and poorer people remaining the same. At the same time, should human beings be able to alter themselves?
(2) Impact On World Economy
Whenever there is a new technology, there are always concerns about its impact on jobs. Questions have been raised about the impact of nanotechnology on manufacturing jobs in the future.
At the same time, nanotechnology will make it possible for us to be able to replicate almost anything. This might have far-reaching consequences on the relevance of currency in its current form.
The concept has also led to questions about the safety of the smaller “legacy” material and whether they might cause unforeseen safety hazards. It will be interesting to see how this concern is addressed going forward.
At the same time, it is important to note that toxic nanomaterials pose no greater threat in that form than their bulky counterparts.
It is going to be a challenge for this technology to be packaged and manufactured at such a scale that it reaches people from all walks of life across the world while simultaneously educating physicians and users on the benefits it brings. Silicon chips are a great way for the inexpensive manufacturing of technology.
It is fair to say that all these challenges will not all be solved at once. But it is concerns and gray areas like these that keep scientists on their toes to continue making improvements on innovations.
Although some of the concerns are outlandish and immature, it is clear that nanotechnology is here for the long haul.
As the nanoscale continues to prove its unlimited potential, we will continue to be impacted by nanotechnology in the immediate and long-term future.