In the Thesis article in the July issue of Nature Nanotechnology (2, 386 – 387; 2007), Chris Toruney addresses important differences between nanotechnology and other areas, in particular fuel-cell and hydrogen technologies, that it wouls be wise to take into account when involving the public in discussions about new developments in nanoscience and nanotechnology. He writes:
“The number of projects that encourage the public to engage with nanotechnology is growing all the time. However, some scientists are uncomfortable with the idea that non-experts should have active roles in decisions about nanotechnology because they think it will allow uninformed outsiders to second-guess them. All this public engagement activity might also seem peculiar at a time when public awareness of nanotechnology is miniscule. Regardless of these reactions, public engagement is becoming a serious component of nanotechnology policy in many countries, and interesting things are happening.”
The current issue of Nature carries an Editorial urging governments to act on researchers’ attempts to engage the public over nanotechnology. See Nature 448, 1-2 (2007).