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CRN announces the Wise-Nano project

Nanotechnology will change the world. But how much, how soon, how fast, and how powerfully? Today we have many more questions than answers.

To begin finding answers, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) has initiated the Wise-Nano project, a collaborative online effort to study the facts and implications of advanced nanotechnology. is built on MediaWiki technology, so any user can add content, or improve existing content.

At the site, users can:

- Learn about wise use of advanced nanotechnology
- Ask questions
- Join a project
- Start a project
- Answer questions
- Create or edit articles
- Expand or review articles
- Contribute to discussions
- Find collaborators for research

“Building a foundation for wise nanotechnology will not be easy,” says Chris Phoenix, CRN’s Director of Research. “Chemists, political scientists, physicists, lawyers, engineers, economists, sociologists, medical doctors, ecologists, and ethicists will need to work together to ask and answer the right questions.”

Recent research has found that the design of a self-fabricating system might be simpler than a desktop computer's CPU. An automated, self-contained factory could build lifesaving medical robots—or untraceable weapons of mass destruction. For less than a million dollars, it could build networked computers for everyone in the world—and for another million, networked cameras so governments can watch our every move.

Cheap, clean manufacturing could create abundant wealth, but will also create a vicious scramble to own the benefits. Fast, automated prototyping will enable rapid invention of wondrous products, but fast weapons development could lead to an unstable arms race.

“Without advance planning—without wise and well-informed policy—we will walk blindly off a cliff,” says Phoenix. “Bad policy will lead to mushrooming problems, which will inspire more bad policy. In the struggle between anarchy and oppression, the one sure loser will be ‘we the people.’” is a website for researchers worldwide to work together, helping to build an understanding of the technologies, their effects, and what to do about them. CRN’s Chris Phoenix administers the Wise-Nano site, and CRN hosts the site, but it belongs to all users.

“CRN is working on finding policy and technical solutions,” says Mike Treder, Executive Director of CRN, “but no single approach will solve all problems or address all needs. The only answer is a collective answer, and that will demand an unprecedented collaboration—a network of leaders and researchers in business, government, academia, and NGOs. is a first step in that direction.”

CRN was a non-profit research and advocacy organization, completely dependent on small grants and individual contributions.


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