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Posted: February 15, 2008

Second announcement and call for papers: Managing the uncertainty of nanotechnologies

(Nanowerk News) Second announcement and call for papers for the conference "Managing the uncertainty of nanotechnologies. Challenges to law, ethics and policy making" in Rovigo, Italy, on May 22-23, 2008.
The rapid pace of technoscientific development and the growing uncertainty about the impacts of innovation on society question and challenge social insti tutions, values, regulatory frameworks and processes of political decision-making. Emerging technologies, and, in particular, nanotechnologies, promise to amplify the implications of such challenges.
On the one hand, the nanotechnologies' field is increasingly represented as ushering in a new industrial revolution replete with greater wealth and health. On the other, several critical voices have underlined possible risks associated with nanotechnologies and the current or future changes they promise.
This situation is hence characterised by different and somewhat contrasting evaluations and by the difficulty of empirically-grounded assessment of the actual impacts of nanotechnologies on human health, natural environment, economy, etc. Nevertheless, our societies are now called to make decisions about the best current and future opportunities offered by nanotechnologies. Our societies are tasked with reducing contemporary risks and governing the potential risks associated to this technoscientific field.
The convergence between the necessity of choice, the uncertainty about the possible impacts of nanotechnologies, and their transformative potential, require a heuristic effort to understand current, expected, preferred changes. The current concepts, ideas, heuristic and regulatory instruments have to be discussed to assess their adequacy for observing, understanding, anticipating and, if possible, guiding such changes.
Panel sessions and call for papers
Moving from this awareness, the conference intends to offer a multidisciplinary perspective on three aspects that appear particularly relevant. Each of them will be discussed in a panel session:
Panel 1: Nanotechnologies and regulatory issues: The evaluation of the current regulatory instruments before the challenges of technoscience, and the identification of possible models of regulation for nanotechnologies;
Panel 2: Nanotechnologies, ethics and public policy: The analysis of the interaction among technoscientific experts, policymakers and citizens referring to the frame of nano technologies, with particular attention to the interplay of decision-making, public discourse, ethical judgement and technical feasibility;
Panel 3: Nanotechnologies, foresight and the broader future-oriented debate The discussion of the tools offered by foresight to anticipate socio-technical change and their relation with the broader public debate on nanotechnologies.
Papers focusing on other emerging technological fields are welcome as they provide exemplary cases and valuable lessons for nanotechnologies.
The following invited participants have confirmed their attendance: Roger Brownsword, King's College; Geert van Calster, Collegium Falconis, University of Leuven; Robert Doubleday, University of Cambridge; Harro van Lente, University of Utrecht; Federico Neresini, University of Padua; Alfred Nordmann, Darmstadt University of Technology; Elena Pariotti, University of Padua; Chris Phoenix, Centre for Responsible Nanotechnology; Cynthia Selin, Arizona State University; Mariachiara Tallacchini, Catholic Universit of the Sacred Heart in Piacenza.
Abstract submissions
Abstracts should be approximately 1000 words in length and be submitted by February 29, 2008 electronically at Financial assistance for travel expenditures will be available in select cases. Full information about the conference and the panel sessions are available at or at
Source: University of Padua
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