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Posted: May 14, 2007
New nanotechnology database for societal and ethical implications
(Nanowerk News) The Center for the Study of Ethics in the Professions (CSEP) at the Illinois Institute of Technology has recently launched NanoEthicsBank. The NanoEthicsBank is a database conceived as a resource for researchers, scholars, students, and the general public who are interested in the social and ethical implications of nanotechnology. Items in the database include normative documents, such as guidelines for safety in the workplace, and descriptive materials, such as analysis of the U.S. government’s capacity for oversight and studies of the media coverage of nanotechnology.
Some subject categories of the NEB include:
- National and International initiatives to build a regulatory framework for nanotechnology research and development.
- Public perception and acceptance of nanotechnology, including popular media coverage, and efforts of public engagement by governments, academic institutes, and industry.
- Development of best practices and voluntary standards by industry and businesses using nanoparticles
- Ethical development of nanotechnology: military use, questions of privacy and surveillance, bioethics, and nanomedicine.
New material is added to the NanoEthicsBank as it becomes published or available online. Records contained in the database include all relevant citation information, an abstract, and links to material freely available on the World Wide Web. The full text of publicly available documents, such as government reports, is included in the NEB, and more full text will become available as authors and publishers grant copyright permission.
The NEB is conceived as a resource for researchers from different backgrounds and fields of expertise. Because of this, we have incorporated a wide variety of ways to search the database. Records can be searched by keyword in the general search mode, by combined field searching (Author + Title + Publisher + Key Words) or Boolean searching (Public AND Engagement NOT Media) in the advanced mode. We have also developed a controlled key terms dictionary that allows users to choose a subject area to search, such as “risk assessment” “media coverage” and “military use”.
The NEB contains material from across many disciplines and subject areas. This interdisciplinary nature means that researchers using the database may not share a common language or set of search terms. In an effort to bridge this divide, we are developing a “folksonomy” tagging system, or a system where frequent users of the database can add their own search terms to describe a resource, much in the way social tagging works on the open web.
We are continually looking for new and innovative ways to improve the scope and searching capability of the database, and would welcome any comments or suggestions you may have.
The NanoEthicsBank is part of the NanoConnection to Society project that will be an important resource on the interchange of public discourse, regulation, and economics in the development nanotechnology. It will support the study of how society shapes the development of technology, and how technology shapes society. The NanoConnection to Society database is part of the Center for Nanotechnology and Society, funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Nanotechnology Initiative.