One of the most exciting innovations in technology today is nanotechnology. These micro-machines have the ability to change several industries all at the same time. Combining all aspects of a STEM education, there is even the chance that nanotechnologies could be the cure for severe diseases and genetic disorders.
As with any new technology, the benefits that nanotechnology can bring are very exciting. There are also disadvantages that must be carefully evaluated. Here is a look at the key points of today’s nanotechnology pros and cons.
The Pros of Nanotechnology
1. It creates change on the cellular level.
Nanotechnology has the potential of restructuring items at a cellular level. Imagine turning organic cells instantly into consumable food, just like the Star Trek replicator does. Trash could be turned into usable goods. Recycling would take on a whole new meaning. We’d would end up using fewer items because one thing could be altered to meet many needs.
2. It could extend human life.
Because cells can be altered at their core level, there are a number of ways that human life could be extended. Difficult diseases such as cancer or ALS could be cured. The aging process could be slowed down or potentially even stopped. Organic materials could be manipulated to create or repair damaged organs or even replace amputated limbs. Only our imagination could limit the effectiveness of this technology in this area.
3. It could create self-repairing technology.
Imagine being on an airplane that has a malfunction in its hydraulics system. Once the malfunction is detected, the nanotechnology could be started to fix the problem so the aircraft and its passengers can be saved. The technology could be used to self-repair virtually anything, from a plugged toilet to worn out water-proofing around a home’s foundation.
4. In many ways, nanotechnology could even eliminate poverty.
It’s not just because nanotech could create many high paying new jobs. It’s because people in even severe drought conditions could manipulate matter to create food and water. It’s because children born with addictions or disease could be cured. It’s because there is the potential to give everyone equal access to opportunity for perhaps the first time in all of human history.
The Cons of Nanotechnology
1. It could be easily weaponized.
Nanotechnology is only as good as the programmer behind it. If cellular repair can happen, then so can cellular destruction. Weaponized nanotechnologies could lead to programmed delivery systems that could eliminate a population while living an urban infrastructure completely intact. The technology could even self-replicate, making it difficult to defeat if nanotech countermeasures aren’t in place.
2. They may cause their own unique diseases.
There are already reported incidents of disease development in individuals who have inhaled nanoparticles. There is no guarantee that the problems nanotech could solve wouldn’t just create new problems that don’t have a solution in the future that are even more problematic.
3. It could create a new system of class identity.
If nanotechnologies do wind up providing low-cost food and health options, there is always the possibility that one nation or group would hoard this technology to themselves. One socioeconomic class could keep the technology for their own benefit, creating a new system of haves and have nots.
4. It could make current energy technologies obsolete.
Numerous sectors of industries today are built on fossil fuels. Nanotech could make these technologies obsolete. The resulting change in economic circumstances would shift where the value is seen in a population base. It would also create a new economic classification because any product could be created, including gold and other valuable resources. The shift could be devastating to households invested in these items.
The nanotechnology pros and cons show a lot of exciting potential, but that potential comes at a certain risk. Are all humans essentially good? Or is the risk of weaponizing nanotech something that could hold this technology back? We must weigh these pros and cons carefully to determine our next steps in this exciting STEM field of research.