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The emergence and policy implications of converging new technologies integrated from the nanoscale


Science based on the unified concepts on matter at the nanoscale provides a new foundation for knowledge creation, innovation, and technology integration. Convergent new technologies refers to the synergistic combination of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive sciences (NBIC), each of which is currently progressing at a rapid rate, experiencing qualitative advancements, and interacting with the more established fields such as mathematics and environmental technologies (Roco & Bainbridge, 2002). It is expected that converging technologies will bring about tremendous improvements in transforming tools, new products and services, enable human personal abilities and social achievements, and reshape societal relationships.

After a brief overview of the general implications of converging new technologies, this paper focuses on its effects on R&D policies and business models as part of changing societal relationships. These R&D policies will have implications on investments in research and industry, with the main goal of taking advantage of the transformative development of NBIC. Introduction of converging technologies must be done with respect of immediate concerns (privacy, toxicity of new materials, etc.) and longer-term concerns including human integrity, dignity and welfare. The efficient introduction and development of converging new technologies will require new organizations and business models, as well as solutions for preparing the economy, such as multifunctional research facilities, integrative technology platforms, and global risk governance.

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Correspondence to M. C. Roco.

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Roco, M.C. The emergence and policy implications of converging new technologies integrated from the nanoscale. J Nanopart Res 7, 129–143 (2005).

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Key words

  • nanotechnology
  • biotechnology
  • information technology
  • cognition
  • societal implications
  • EHS
  • ELSI
  • education
  • risk governance
  • National Nanotechnology Initiative