Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Nanotechnology and Asian Values

In this paper I would like to investigate the relationships between nanotechnology and Asian values. Nanotechnology has been proclaimed as a new technology that could bridge the gap between the rich and the poor countries. Areas such as drug development, agricultural production enhancement, elimination of environmental pollution, and energy management, to name but a few, are those where nanotechnology is promising to deliver solutions that could raise the standard and the quality of living in the developing world significantly.

Furthermore, many countries in Asia are fast developing their nanotechnological capabilities. Foremore among them are India and China, which are poised to become among the world leaders in the field. Countries such as Thailand and the Philippines are starting to catch up. According to Peter Singer et al. (2005), nanotechnological activities in India include product development and marketing, and in China the national infrastructure of funding for innovative nanotechnological research is very strong. Singer et al. believe that nanotechnology could be good news for the developing world, but that will not take place on its own. On the contrary, Singer et al. are proposing a global agenda whereby nanotechnology is highlighted as a kind of technology that could provide concrete changes for the better in the developing world.

However, in order for the visions of Singer and others' can be fully realized, one needs to take into consideration the role that culture and values are playing in adoption of nanotechnological policies. In the paper I will investigate the various dimensions in which culture and values play a role. As with other powerful technologies, nanotechnology can create as many problems as solutions. The typical fear of the technology, that nanotechnology will someday produce “nanobots” or “nanogoo” which will take over the world and destroy human beings, needs to be seriously addressed and not merely dismissed as a fantasy. I will concentrate more on the Thai case, looking specifically at the Buddhist tradition in attempting to find out what Buddhism might have to say regarding the advancement of nanotechnology into the fabric of Thai culture. However, I believe what I am saying here is relevant to the other traditions in Asia too.

Singer, Peter, Fabio Salamanca-Buentello, and Abdallah S. Daar. (2005). Harnessing nanotechnology to improve global equity. Issues in Science and Technology, pp. 57-64.