Classifying US nano-scientists: Of cautious innovators, regulators, and technology optimists.


Government regulations to address technological risks are important for the successful development and application of nanotechnology, but there is an ongoing debate in the USA about who is responsible for the regulation of nanotechnology. In a mail survey of leading US nano-scientists, we examine scientists’ perceptions about nano-regulation, including the government level (local, national, or international) at which the scientists believe nanotechnology regulation should be implemented. This regulatory discussion is important because international regulations are often difficult to adopt and implement; yet, local or state-level regulations could lead to the nanotechnology equivalent of the pollution haven hypothesis. We conclude that leading US nano-scientists have varying perceptions about nanotechnology regulations with some scientists supporting local regulations, but most scientists supporting national-level or international-level regulations. Additionally, our results show the emergence of three distinct categories of nano- scientists that have unique perspectives on nano-regulation: ‘cautious innovators’, ‘nano- regulators’, and ‘technology optimists’.

Full Paper

Kim, Youngjae, Corley, Elizabeth A., & Scheufele, Dietram A. (2012). Classifying U.S. Nano Scientists – Of Cautious Innovators, Regulators, and Technology Optimists. Science and Public Policy, 39(1), 30-38.