Volume 2 Number 3 (May 2012)
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IJAPM 2012 Vol.2(3): 162-164 ISSN:2010-362X
DOI: 10.7763/IJAPM.2012.V2.77

Nano Technology: The Flipside of Transition Technology

Valsamma K. M.

Abstract—The 21st century world is indisputably at the intersection of a revolutionary era, ushered in by the synergized confluence of biotechnology and nano technology. Whereas the characteristic building blocks that were, manifested in all the traditional evolutionary changes in the Industrial era from flint chips to silicon chips , were the “bulk technologies”, now in recent times , in a quick reversal of the situation, the bulk technologies are on the cusp of radically getting replaced by entirely new generation of “molecular technologies”. This necessarily pre supposes a shift in the way we look at the manufacturing industry. Molecular manufacturing has in this process come to mean a revolutionary gene-on-a-chip approach which seeks to “eliminate manufacturing industry as we know it. It would also eliminate the rural sector: farms growing food and forest plantations growing wood” [1]. In the Agricultural sector, it would make a sea change as when large slabs of beef or chicken meat grown in vats by in vitro process would be available without growing any cattle or poultry in the farm level . It is estimated that a single animal could provide more than a billion pounds of in vitro meat to feed the world's population for at least several hundred years [2]. Similarly scientists would be in a position to synthesize, wood commensurate with desirable characteristics instead of having to rely on nature’s imperfect random variations, all of which are likely to have far reaching implications in land use and sustainability. As a result, unlike as of now, in the nano technology enabled future, “the farm will be a wide area bio-factory that can be monitored and managed from a laptop and food will be crafted from designer substances delivering nutrients efficiently to the body”. [3], While nanotechnology is admittedly the technology enabled and atomically assembled antithesis to organic agriculture, organic agriculture on the other hand places a premium on the wholesome health-boosting properties of fresh, unprocessed whole foods. In contrast nanotechnology, further seeks to transform the farm as a whole into an automated extension of the high technology factory production line. According to Raymond Ray Kurzweil who has since been hailed by Forbes as "the ultimate thinking machine” as it is the computing power, that renders growth in so many fields of science and technology, these improvements in computing power, ipso facto , translate themselves into exponential advancements in non-computer sciences like nanotechnology, biotechnology, and materials science. Kurzweil has chosen to refer to this concept as the "Law of Accelerating Returns". The goal of Agriculture is to supply all people on the planet with enough food to prevent wide spread hunger and starvation. However, the larger issues of food security are getting worse day by day, resulting in an increase in the number of malnourished persons in the world. The ever increasing population in the developing and less developed countries is also coming in the way, as a major constraint in the eradication of poverty. While there are beneficial attributes of Nano technology there are also pitfalls in its path. David Collingridge, of the University of Aston, has given us a treatise of how two conditions necessary for avoiding the undesired consequences of an emerging technology are to be suitably dealt with. In his 1980 book, The Social Control of Technology, what has now come to be known as the Collingridge dilemma is described. Collingridge has made it known, in his book that more often than not, it is one of the recurring dilemmas, “that a technology has, or will have, harmful effects, and it must be possible to change the technology in some way to avoid the effects."[4] Unfortunately, one or both of the conditions precedent to control of technology seldom succeed or are often lacking, and Collingridge has expressed this misfortune in the form of a dilemma, which has now come to be known as Collingridge’s dilemma. It has since been argued that in the case of Nano technology, what is being encountered is not merely a dilemma but actually a trilemma. Drexler the ardent proponent of Nanotechnology that he is has also cautioned the world about the other side of Nano technology by coming out with the statement that Nano technology is a technology of “unprecedented power with commensurate dangers and opportunities”. In the same vein, Bill Joy Chief Scientist at Sun Microsystems has also voiced his concern, when he says that “our most powerful 21st-century technologies— are threatening to make humans an endangered species."

Index Terms—Nano scale material, precision agriculture, food security, nano technology, bio-technology.

K. M. Valsamma is with Faculty of Agricultural Engineering, Department of SAC, Kerala Agricultural University, KCAET, Tavanur-(email: valsammakm@gmail.com).


Cite: Valsamma K. M., "Nano Technology: The Flipside of Transition Technology," International Journal of Applied Physics and Mathematics  vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 162-164, 2012.

General Information

ISSN: 2010-362X
Frequency: Bimonthly (2011-2014); Quarterly (Since 2015)
DOI: 10.17706/IJAPM
Editor-in-Chief: Prof. Haydar Akca
Abstracting/ Indexing: Index Copernicus, EI (INSPEC, IET), Chemical Abstracts Services (CAS), Electronic Journals Library, Nanowerk Database, Google Scholar, EBSCO, and ProQuest
E-mail: ijapm@iap.org
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