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Ethics and Nanotechnology Essay

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Updated: Jun 25th, 2019

Modern science is in a constant progress in order to contribute to the increased people’s demands. Every day the speed of the public’s life grows, it becomes more intensive and involves more elements.

Today, to address all the people’s needs, it is necessary to have a lot of technological devices which function separately and makes the society’s life better. Nevertheless, can the results of the technological progress improve the quality of the people’s life?

What is the risk of developing the negative effects of technologies? Nowadays, the technological development is mainly discussed from the perspective of the progress of nanotechnology, but there are a lot of controversial questions which are connected with the aspects of ethics.

Is the impact of the developed and improved technologies on the society with references to ethics positive or negative?

Although the development of nanotechnology is significant for the general technological progress of the contemporary science and it can meet the people’s needs, from the perspective of their impact on humans, the achievements in nanotechnology are connected with a lot of ethical questions, and it is important to find the balance between the ethical issues and the effects of nanotechnology.

Some decades ago, the progress of technologies was discussed from many sides with references to the possible benefits and harms for humans.

In this case, science and its achievements were closely associated with the questions of ethics because of the impact of the technologies on the humanity. The next challenge was the accents on the researches in biotechnology.

Even today there are no strict answers to the issues of genetics and possibilities of biotechnology in the context of ethics. The progress of nanotechnology is the following stage of the scientific development which connects the modern world with the world of the future.

According to Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher, “the leading industrialized countries consider research in nanotechnology to be vital to economic and technological competitiveness in the 21st century, and it is said that nanotechnology may lead to the next industrial revolution” (Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher 452).

The researches in the field of nanotechnology are important because the standards of the future society are stated today, and according to them, the demands of people increase, and the requirements to the humans’ abilities also change.

The focus is made on the highly-developed world, qualified and skillful people. The necessary investigations in nanotechnology make this shift to the highly-developed world be the reality.

However, many ethical questions which were discussed during the development of the first achievements in biotechnology, genetics, and the other fields still remain to be unsolved.

Can it be possible that making a lot of discoveries and increasing the degree of the technological achievements, scientists break the laws of the nature and influence the evolution of the people and society negatively?

Nanotechnology as well as the other fields of science and technology is developed in order to complete “broad societal goals, such as better health care, increased productivity, and improved comprehension of nature” (Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher 452).

The completion of all these goals can be effective for achieving the new quality of the people’s life. Nevertheless, the scientists and researchers should answer the question about the ethical character of their investigations and about the effect of the investigations’ results.

Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher state that the main issues associated with the sphere of ethics and nanotechnology have their origins in the discussions of the ethical problems of the biotechnology’s development (Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher).

The problem is also in the fact that providing a lot of researches and experiments in the fields of biotechnology and nanotechnology, scientists often cannot predict the results of the definite discoveries and innovations because of the high level of technologies.

From this point, nanotechnology is the step to the future, but this future can have a lot of unpredictable aspects which are connected with the development of these technologies.

Nanotechnology is developed to be actively used by a lot of different professionals according to their needs. Biotechnology is also developed to solve such problems as associated with the people’s health or with the issue of malnutrition.

From this perspective, biotechnologists focused on the possibilities of genetics in combination with a lot of modern technologies. The results of the investigations are still discussed as risky for the people’s health and nature because of the lack of the necessary evidence and researches in the field.

That is why, all the achievements of nanotechnology are also discussed with referring to the problem of the impact on the humanity and the ethical character of the investigations’ results. Is it ethically to use nanorobots or nanobots and nanoparticles to meet the demands of the world’s progress?

On the one hand, the science cannot stay unchanged and the scientific achievements are significant for the general world’s progress. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to predict the results of the nanotechnology’s development for the society.

Nowadays, researchers pay attention to the possible toxic effects of their innovations, but do they concentrate on the ethical aspect of the problem? Technologies continue to attack all the aspects of the people’s life, and in some years the control of technologies over the public’s life can become unlimited.

It is significant to note that the ethical questions are predominantly connected with those fields which directly influence the quality of the humans’ life, their abilities, and health.

Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher with references to the results of the other researchers’ determine such ethical problems as the uncontrolled function of nanobots and the toxicity of nanoparticles.

Moreover, the development of nanotechnology can contribute to the possible wars and increase the risk of terrorism, nanotechnology is the effective way to the invasion of privacy, and transhumanism is one of the most controversial ethical issues of nanotechnology (Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher).

The researchers indicate that “the fear of biological warfare and terrorism caused by nanotechnology is not only a future issue but of current interest” (Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher 454).

Thus, the achievements of nanotechnology can be utilized not only for improving the people’s life but also for stating the powerfulness in the war conflicts.

The possibility of using nanotechnology expands the boundaries of the actions for the needs of people and also against them. From this perspective, nanotechnology can be discussed as the powerful arms against the humanity.

The next controversial issue is the invasion of privacy which can be affected with the help of nanotechnology. The group of researchers accentuates the idea that “the ethical problem of the invasion of privacy could grow if nanotechnology leads to the spread of spying nanomicrophones in the environment” (Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher 454).

All the devices with some super qualities which some years ago were only the results of the cinematographers’ fantasy are the part of the everyday reality now. The field of ethics is involved in the discussion of the problem because all these devices can be used to control the people’s activity.

The risk of the unlimited control leads to considering nanotechnology not only as the way for improving the people’s life and expanding their possibilities but also as the method to make people dependent on a lot of technological devices.

People have the right to preserve their private life from the invasion of the other persons. However, the unfair usage of the nanotechnology’s achievements can become the real challenge for the society.

Nanobots can perform the definite functions and be utilized instead of using the humans’ work, nanoparticles can be used instead of the natural elements and components and contribute to forming the advantageous production, nanomicrophones can control the peculiarities of the people’s private life and their activities.

These facts can be discussed by the philosophers as challengeable for preserving the features of the world’s development with references to the artificial impact of nanotechnology.

Nevertheless, the question of the benefits or harms of the achievements of nanotechnology is rather controversial because the effective usage of the new technologies can result in expanding the boundaries of science.

For instance, the process of utilizing the nanotechnologies in engineering can make all the necessary procedures speedy and efficient. These innovations with references to the control of computers can contribute to the preservation of the energy and resources (Moor).

Moreover, it can seem that today there are no fields the investigation of which can be impossible because of the lack of the necessary technologies.

The field of using nanotechnology is the specific sphere which can be discussed as the nanoarea, and this nanoarea is the way to reaching the new horizons in science. From the ethical perspective, the peculiarities of the nanoarea can be considered as beneficial for persons till they do not influence the main aspects of the people’s life negatively.

The usage of implants and the other medical devices developed with the help of biotechnologies and nanotechnologies are important and useful for improving the modern medical care and contributing to the people’s health.

Nevertheless, when nanotechnologies are discussed with references to the possibilities of genetics and developing the issue of transhumanism the problem acquires new features.

Modern nanotechnology allows using nanostructures and nanomachines in the human body in order to expand its abilities. However, is it ethically to attack the human’s organism and change its biological program in order to improve its definite qualities?

Today, the researches in this field are continued, and the goal is to address the demands of the frequently changing world. Some scientists can state that the development of nanotechnology can make people be extremely powerful and can help to overcome the natural limits of the humans’ intellects and physical abilities.

The problem is in the fact the real results of such experiments cannot be predicted for certain, and the effects can be irreversible. Thus, the modern world changes rapidly, and the principles of ethics should be also altered with references to the issue of transhumanism.

Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher state that “ethics presupposes that the moral agent is a human being and thereby that we exist within the limits of humanity. With transhumanism, we will transgress the limits of humanity and thereby the limits of ethics” (Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher 456).

The researchers also determine the concepts according to which it is possible to analyze the ethical aspects with accentuating the issues of nanotechnology.

These principles are “autonomy, integrity, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice”, and they can be challenged by the progress of nanotechnology, but there are two visions of the question (Ebbesen, Andersen and Besenbacher 456).

The results of nanotechnology can be discussed effective for people when they contribute to the improvement of their quality of life and are not connected with such ethical aspects as the invasion of privacy or lack of autonomy and nonmaleficence.

The achievements in the field of nanotechnology can be considered as risky when they can harm people. All the innovations can be used for expanding violence, stating the power of the certain authorities, and controlling the persons’ activities.

That is why, the development of nanotechnology should be regulated with references to the ethical norms and rules because the results of this progress are closely associated with the people’s lives, their health, and even with their abilities.

Focusing on the fact that nanotechnology can increase and expand the life span of the world population, it is also important to remember about the negative sides of the phenomenon which are not examined enough.

In their work, professionals should refer to the issues of ethics because ethics is connected with morality, and it is the effective way to control the development of the processes which are negative for people.

Works Cited

Ebbesen, Mette, Svend Andersen and Flemming Besenbacher. “Ethics in Nanotechnology: Starting From Scratch?” Bulletin of Science Technology Society 26 (2006): 451-462. Print.

Moor, James H. What is Computer Ethics? n.d. Web. <>.

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