[Paleopsych] Cordis: Technology could grow beyond human control, warns Millennium report
checker at panix.com
Fri Jul 1 01:33:08 UTC 2005
Technology could grow beyond human control, warns Millennium report
[Only the 2004 report, which costs $50, is on the site.]
Many people still do not appreciate how fast science and technology
(S&T) will change over the next 25 years, and given this rapid
development along several different fronts, the possibility of
technology growing beyond human control must now be taken seriously,
according to a new report.
The State of the Future 2005 report is produced by the United Nations
University's Millennium Project - a global think tank of foresight
experts, academics and policy makers. It analyses current global
trends and examines in detail some of the current and future
challenges facing the world.
Setting the scene, the report states: 'Future synergies among
nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive
science can dramatically improve the human condition by increasing the
availability of food, energy and water and by connecting people and
information anywhere. The effect will be to increase collective
intelligence and create value and efficiency while lowering costs.'
However, it warns that 'a previous and troubling finding from the
Millennium Project still remains unsolved: although it is increasingly
clear that humanity has the resources to address its global
challenges, unfortunately it is not increasingly clear how much
wisdom, goodwill and intelligence will be focussed on these
The report argues that because the factors that caused the
acceleration of S&T are themselves accelerating, the rate of change in
the past 25 years will appear slow compared to the rate of change in
the next 25 years. 'To help the world cope with the acceleration of
change, it may be necessary to create an international S&T
organisation to arrange the world's science and technology knowledge
as well as forecasts of potential consequences in a better
Internet-human interface,' it argues.
Taking one particular example - that of nanotechnology - the report
predicts that this field will deliver extraordinary benefits for
humanity, but warns that little is currently known about the
environmental and health risks of nanomaterials. Since the military is
currently a major player in the development of nanotechnology, the
report proposes military research to help understand and manage these
The most important questions to pursue, according to the report, are:
how are nanoparticles absorbed into the body through the skin, lungs,
eyes, ears and alimentary canal? Once in the body, can nanoparticles
evade natural defences of humans and other animals? What are the
potential exposure routes of nanomaterials - both airborne and
waterborne? How biodegradable are nanotube-based structures?
The authors suggest that a classification system will be needed to
provide a framework within which to make research judgements and keep
track of the knowledge regarding potential nanotech pollution.
'Toxicologists and pharmaceutical scientists will have to be brought
together to investigate nanoparticles' ability to evade cell defences
to target disease,' they add.
Returning to the wider challenges facing humanity, the report notes
that national decision makers are rarely trained in the theory and
practice of decision making, and argues that advanced decision support
software could help. 'Formalized ethics and decision training for
decision makers could result in a significant improvement in the
quality of global decisions,' it concludes.
For further information, please consult the following web address:
Data Source Provider: American Council for the United Nations
Document Reference: Based on the State of the Future 2005 report
Subject Index : Scientific Research; Social Aspects; Forecasting;
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