Hey what a great day to start a blog! Welcome to our ETC Blog - an occassional space for analysis, links and flagging up some of the more interesting stuff that ETC staff are reading, writing and thinking about on a day to day basis. In keeping with our usual cautionary approach to new technologies it took us a while to enter the blogsphere - but anyway, here we are.
If you are not familiar with ETC Group here's snapshot of us: we are eight people, dispersed geographically, who monitor corporate power, track emerging technologies and write about their impact on cultural and biological diversity. We have a website , we write stuff , we run workshops and events, we provide policy analysis and advocacy. Sometimes we publish cartoons. Now we have a blog.
In this blog we will be pulling out nuggets of news on nanotechnology, biotechnologies, brain technologies, intellectual property, genetic diversity, indigenous struggles and so on. Hopefully it will be the online equivalent of having a drink together at the world social forum - a chance to catch up on the gossip and speculate together into the future.
Its also a place to let you know in a timely fashion about other articles and materials we are writing that might not usually make it onto our website.. such as this chapter about Nanotechnology which was published yesterday in the 2006 State of The World Report. State of the World is a hefty digest of key trends about the health of the planet produced by the authoratitive Washington DC group WorldWatch and translated into over 20 languages. WorldWatch's decision to include an assesment of the world's tiniest technology in weighing up the state of our planet shows tremendous foresight for this annual publication. As my colleagues Hope and Kathy Jo say in the report "Society is not prepared for a technology wave of such height and breadth. Learning from the experiences of past waveschemicals, nuclear power, and biotechnology now is the time to answer some key questions"
Interestingly that was pretty much what the author of another nanotechnology report was saying by live webcast at the same time as the WorldWatch report went live. Terry Davies, a former lawmaker at US Environmental Protection Agency, was presenting his new report courtesy of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (also in Washington DC). Davies criticized US environmental protection laws (including the Toxic Substances Control Act which he drafted) as being unable to handle nanoparticle risks. "Most of the existing applicable programs" he said "are seriously flawed, lack resources, and require new thinking and funding.
In a press conference Davies expressed that the issue goes further than just nanotech - that we need a means for considering innovation in new technologies. This is something that ETC Group has been saying for a while - we call it ICENT - the International Convention on the Evaluation of New Technologies and we outlined how it might work in a paper on Nanogeopolitics last year. Check out Terry Davies' new report here and some of the press reaction here.