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Training Workshop on Bionanotechnology 47

IdJit writes, "The University of Virginia Center for Advanced Computational Technology at NASA Langley will be hosting a training workshop on BioNanoTechnology June 14 & 15 here on the NASA campus. The attendees will be NASA and other gov't and university researchers planning to work on nano-biotechnology. Presentations, panel discussions, and software demonstrations are planned. Here is the info if you're interested. " Must train. Must build future.
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Training Workshop on Bionanotechnology

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yeah. Imagine nanites spreading out and planting memes in everyones' head. Everyone could wake up Republican one day, or believing in homeopathy or scientology.

    To some extent, nanotechnology-as-industrial tool could make up for the increased resource demands of a population increased by nanotechnology-as-repair-mechanism. But it's also possible that some nanotech equivalent of Monsanto could screw things up real major.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    There are too many kinds of examples out there, from the Nuclear Science that produces nuclear bombs, to dynamite [TNT, plastique} that are _still_ used to blow up people in wartime, to electric chain-saw that has accelerated the pace of tree cutting (and the disappearing of so many forest area all around the world) and so on and so forth.

    Sorry chief, but there is one thing about the human race you need to know: if it can be done, somebody will eventually do it so why not us?

    Any kind of nanotechnology, once it's possible, will be done and will be used for all possible applications. That's why technology frightens people because it allows more and further reaching significant change.

    Pre-emptively establishing "guidelines" is pretty pointless. First of all, everybody is already aware of the dangers. "What if somebody releases a deadly nanovirus." Fortunately, with a technology that can cause a problem, you also get the solution. All somebody else needs to do is make a nanocure. Though not as simple a solution, the threat of nuclear war was kept in check by the fact that nuking one person meant retaliation - nuclear bombs were also their own solution to the problem. Electric chainsaws can be used to chop up the people chopping down the rainforests (well, okay, maybe not, but they don't pollute as much!).

    Nanotech will just end up being one more technology. The only thing to keep in mind is that the more advanced the technology, the more far-reaching the consequences. In fact, on a global scale, I'd say the consequences are always the same, because of the increase in population as a result of that technology corresponds pretty nicely to the number of people affected (this is, of course, a completely unscientific generalization, but hopefully one you can envision and see my point). Every single technology (other than fusion) I can think of has had more advantages than disadvantages (and I'd think fusion will eventually prove otherwise in the coming decades). Even nuclear power (fssion, that is) which has destroyed several cities (in Japan, most notably) has provided safe, clean energy to hundreds, if not thousands, more cities than it has harmed and has helped millions more people than it has hurt.

    The human race is not quite as evil or reckless as you may think it is. In general, we know how to take care of ourselves. Anybody who thinks the world is degenerating and it is a more dangerous place to live than ever, consider one thing: life expectancy. The world is actually a safer place than its ever been - it only looks more dangerous because we can transfer information (including bad news) faster than we've ever been able to before.
  • I guess the borg guy's name yopu forgot is Stelarc []

    Anthony -

  • Thank you for your reply.

    I generally agree to what you have said, but there is one thing that you have said I must point out though -

    You said:

    "Fortunately, with a technology that
    can cause a problem, you also get
    the solution. All somebody else
    needs to do is make a nanocure."

    I am afraid you are being too optimistic.

    Let us not debate about future possibilities, let us just stick to what we have NOW.

    For example: AIDS.

    AIDS has been in the headlines ever since the 1980's, and where is the cure?

    I mean, REAL CURE?

    If it is so easy to find cure to all ailment, then there wouldn't be such needs for so many people doing the researches all over the world already.

  • You said:

    "Could oyu posible have confused the
    word ethnical with ethical?"

    Sorry, it was a stupid typo !

    You are right, it should be ethical, not ethnical.

    Thanks for your keen eye and your kind reminder. I stand corrected.

  • Thank you for your reply.

    You said:

    "Great idea, but is there any reason
    to have them for (bio)nanotechnology
    in particular?"

    "What about nuclear technology, genetic
    engineering, spaceflight, etc, etc."

    I meantioned the "guideline" for nanotech because it is _STILL_ in its infancy. For other fields that you mentioned, such as genetic engineering, nuclear technology and such, to post a guideline now is still a good idea, but somehow, it has a "close the gate after the cows run off" feeling.

    My point is to at least an attempt to have some sort of ethical guideline for a new field of technology that has yet to be developed into producing monstroucious after effects.

    Prevention is better than cure anyway.

    You also said:

    "Another point is that there is no-one
    to enforce this kind of thing, it will
    be useless."

    "If a company has a choice between
    making millions of dollars or
    violating ethical guidelines and
    pissing off lots of people the result
    will be pretty predictable."

    "The only way to do this is to get
    governments to ban certain types of
    technology, which is slow and usually
    not done properly."

    I hope it won't involve governments, because governments are notorious to mess up anything they touch.

    Anyway, to answer your question, my thinking is that the ethical guideline is based on ETHIC, that is, it is targetted for people WITH conscience.

    It is kinda like the GPL license. The GPL license, although it is based on sound laws, the enforcement of it is iffy at best, since there is NO WAY for everyone to check EVERY SINGLE APPLICATION THAT COMES OUT IN THE MARKET, and check them to see if they contain codes that have been copied from those are GPLed.

    Although there _ARE_ cases of discovery - that some despictable entity plagarized codes from GPLed programs and use them in their commercial $$$ programs, I bet there _ARE_ many more commercial programs out there that are carrying GPLed codes.

    So it all comes back to the CONSCIENCE thing. The guideline is an ethical guideline, and its main point is to raise awareness (plus a reminder) to everybody in general, and the researchers who are in the nanotech in particular, that they would be crossing their ethical boundary if they carry out things that are not-that-ethical, or ethically questionable.

    The guideline of course can NOT foresee every single type of ethical dilemma, after all, it is JUST a guideline. But a guideline is still better than nothing at all.

    That is the way I see it. Your mileage may varies, of course. :)

  • Who would have thought, a conference about high tech bananas? What a wonderful world we live in. ;)
  • I am also very curious as to the great many possibilities for nano-technology. I don't how ever share your concern about it's effects.

    Fear can not be a reason to stop all innovation. There is always a fear of the unknown. And all innovation are making the previously unknown known, making something new that didn't exsit before exsit.

    There have been countless innovations over the history of man kind and I personal think the we are better off for them.

    The possibilities for nano-technology are endless. I'm hoping to see new medical treatment that can be devopled.

  • I just want you to know I'm going to post this on my wall and forward it to my friends. I have been arguing this view point for years, but I've never stated it quite this concisely.

    Geek-grrl in training

    "Television was the religion of the 90's. I'm an atheist."
  • It is actually a covert operation to spread the truth of bananas. Here [] is the true story behind the banana!

  • In 1997 an Australian consotrium Created the first nanodevice, a sensor which can detect down to the pico level was developed. It uses a process that mirrors the nose, and is now being developed for medical use
  • Great idea, but is there any reason to have them for (bio)nanotechnology in particular? What about nuclear technology, genetic engineering, spaceflight, etc, etc.

    Another point is that there is no-one to enforce this kind of thing, it will be useless. If a company has a choice between making millions of dollars or violating ethical guidelines and pissing off lots of people the result will be pretty predictable. The only way to do this is to get governments to ban certain types of technology, which is slow and usually not done properly.

  • If you don't share conceern you shuld be locked up someware so you don't hurt your self. I am not saying don't do it. But this is one hell of a djinn that we are relecing and we had better make god damned sure that he'll be on our side before we pop the cork.
  • No that is the point. They are using radicly diferent tecniques. During the infancy of rockets they made the diference between liqued and solid fule, during the infancy of computors it was anolog vrs digital. For autos steem vrs combustion. (and note the better idea does not always win) Like in the infacny of VCRs wene it was Beta vrs VHS.
  • Uh oh -- don't they know this sort of thing is going to bring an end to the world?
  • Was the airplane not created to aid people in getting from point A to point B easily (not to mention human curiosity with flight)? It has also been used as a war vehicle

    Was nuclear technology not created to create an unlimited supply of fuel or to end World War II? It has started a few wars, as well.

    I am all for such technology. But we, as humans, have proven that our curiosity very much will have the best of us.

    It would be great if such inventions would be used for their intended purpose/s. But the overall risks are such that these tools can and will get into the hands of those who are able and willing to exploit the potential of such tools fo their own selfish desires.

    Get used to it -- it's human nature. (WHERE WERE YOU THE PAST 5.7 MILLION YEARS?) As children, we want every toy and stuffed animal. As adults, we want everything that mattrs most.

    I am not as frightened of the potential for bettering mankind, but the potential for destroying it.

  • I am very curious as to the possibilities of nano-technology being used within living organisms such as ourselves. Likewise, I am very concerned.

    Aiding the healing of ourselves does and has lead to overpopulating this Earth. You think we are really innovative, don't you? Well we are destroying rainforrests and burning more fuel at an alarming rate each day.

    If I die of some common disease, leave me be. I might change my mind, but I am sure that I don't want to contribute to more a problem.

    I'm probably just typing anything on my mind but at least I am thinking!

    I advise everybody to think of the consequenses, as well!

  • Could oyu posible have confused the word ethnical with ethical?

  • I am dumbfounded to read something like this on slashdot. How can you refer to races as lesser or inferior? Regardless of how advanced a culture is, it doesn't mean that they are inferior. It is unfortunate that these people don't have the luxuries that we do. Everyone moves along at their own pace. If it takes some people centuries longer to learn something that others have already mastered, then so be it.

    If you think about it, we are standing on the shoulders of giants today. The technologies that we all take for granted today were formed by someone else's hard work and creativity. What this world needs is better communication. We need to reach out to the rest of the world and teach them what we have learned. We don't need to push our ideals or religous beliefs on them. I certainly don't think that biotechnology is the answer. I hope we aren't trying to re-engineer the human race. We need to celebrate our differences and learn from each other.


  • > Consequenses of the therotical use of something that doesn't exist?

    Exactly! This is the time, RIGHT NOW, to start considering how to deal with the problems that will come with this great new technology. If we start thinking like this, then hopefully we can use this paradigm shifting technology in only the most responsible ways, and maybe have a backup plan to handle possible misuse.
  • Most people don't realize it but this technology is much farther along than most of us realize.

    While at Stanford University I was able to observe some experiments underway with "Nanobots". These particular devices were being designed for medical applications. Some of the potential jobs they might perform in the future is heart surgery such as a bypass without ever cutting open the patient and exposing them to infection. (ie. cutting, repairing, stitching up incinsions etc...). The technology has a ways to go yet but is advancing rapidly and I wouldn't be surprised to see full implimentation within the next five years...

    Just my two cents...

    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC []
  • Einstein new full well what the Manhatten project wanted to do with his theories. Now he may not have thought that the bomb was the ideal way to use his theories, but Einstein approved of the use to change the tide in the war (especially since he was wanted by Hitler). And as far as technology in the wrong hands, no one can keep that from happening, it's inevitable. What we need to have is more people involved in this. The more people involved, the less taboo, and then it won't seem as enticing to the "Mad Scientists" of the world. They will move on to bigger and better things. If you prevent it from coming out, then you et into the same problems as cloning. Other countries are flying ahead with it, and the US is tentative. By the time the US gets cloning to any usefull point other countries will be using cloning to replace body parts and what nots (maybe even regenerate nerves and the spinal column.) and we will be sitting here with our thumbs up our butts because someone 'might' clone a full human and then abuse it's rights...
  • Or ass-monitors, like in Upright Citizens Brigade.

    Make Seven
  • Sorry about that. Typo. It was supposed to say that he taught at Caltec. Oops.

    As for being the only modern physicist to make the list, that was the exact termenology used on the list. (They obviously were not refering only to post-Newton.) Einstein was first, if you were wondering.
  • get built in thumb-viewers---(like in getsmart)

    life will be disturbing.

    LostBrain []

  • And he was smooth with the chicks..
  • I think it's really strange the a lot of posts try to make funny of this bionanotechnology thing..y'see i am not much interested in it too but i still think it's a valid subject..sure there 's a lot of thing i like that others don't and i would not like if they would begin to try to make fun of my interests..besides when there's researches about cold pizza (like yesterday's post)i begin to think that anything is valid...
  • 'Trolling for Karma' should be a moderator option

    It is. It's called "Insightful".

  • If I die of some common disease, leave me be. I might change my mind, but I am sure that I don't want to contribute to more a problem.

    Those who would sacrifice themselves for the "good of the many" do not deserve to live anyway.

    Thank you for making more space for me.

    - jcw -

  • is there a copy of this list online...if so where?

  • At a press conference early this morning, a new web site was annonced. Nanodot: Nano for small, dot for dot.

    This new web site will use a small version of slash-code to run on the new bionanogigalotsofprefixesathlon mircoprocessor.

    In a world where large people dominate, it is now the right time to bring news and information tailored to migits, Wesly Crusher's nanites and those poor souls inadvertently shrunken my Mr. Silinski's shrinking machine (as featured in the "Honey I Shrunk..." movies.

    There will also be some new code written for the site which will be released under a modified version of the GPL called, the gpl. It will essentially entile the same content, only no large letter will be used in the actualy license.

    For more infomation check out
  • Just thinking of that name gives me a headache..... wasn't the bananarama's some kind of music group or something?

  • Nanotech is still in its infancy, but the potential power of nanotechnology should not be overlooked.

    Please allow me to suggest that an ethical clause or guideline should be introduced for nanotech, for we do not want to repeat the same mistakes we have for all other technological innovation - that instead of using the tools for the betterment of the world, we human employ what we know to do BAD THINGS more than we do good things.

    There are too many kinds of examples out there, from the Nuclear Science that produces nuclear bombs, to dynamite [TNT, plastique} that are _still_ used to blow up people in wartime, to electric chain-saw that has accelerated the pace of tree cutting (and the disappearing of so many forest area all around the world) and so on and so forth.

    I know what I am suggesting may not sounds right, it may even sounds kinda restrictive, but there comes a time we ought to inculcate the sense of RESPONSIBILITY into the minds of our bright young ones, the future scientists that may employ or discover future technologies such as nanotechnology / bio-engineering and so on.

    I am not asking much, I am merely suggesting an ethnical guideline to minimize the chance of ABUSE and MISUSE of techno-knowledge.

  • Consequenses of the therotical use of something that doesn't exist?

    You're frightened of this new field because there's nothing in it. No reality to brush aside your imagination. Go to the conference, find out what's going on, then start thinking.

    Erik Z
  • Training conferences in the biotech (and the rest of the tech/scientific community as well, I suspect) are a great way to meet people in the field. As a grad student in biotech, I've been to a number of these training conferences and found them very useful to network and figure out what's going on.

    Attendees, though, I suspect should have some training in a technical field to actually get something out of the conference.

    -- Moondog
  • Though Feynman did go to school at Princeton, he never taught there. He taught briefly at Cornell early on, but spent the bulk of his career at Caltech.

    As for his being the "only modern physicist to make the top 10 physicists of all time" . . .
    In my experience "modern physics" means post-Newtonian type stuff: quantum, special/general relativity, etc. I would hope, therefore, that Feynman was not the only modern physicist to make the list (I'd hope they'd include Einstein, at least). If they defined "modern" differently, I guess we're simply engaged in a semantic argument.
  • You have identified a better story than the one we are all replying to since this one actually gives some info (not much tho) as to what they consider bionanotechnology to be:

    From the NIH web site

    General topics to be covered during the symposium include: * synthesis of biomimetically-derived and bioactive nanostructures for applications in therapeutics and diagnostics; * devices for early detection of disease and for single cell and molecule measurements; * electronic/biology interfaces; * biological nanostructures; and * nanotechnology in tissue repair.

    Seems to me they are just renaming areas within biology as bionanotech. I guess it helps to keep the federal monies flowing.

    What would make a really good story is a link to a conference proceedings to people could actually get a glimpse of the science being presented and find out what really is bionanotech.

  • Can you tell us more or give us a link to the labs website?

  • Maybe I am behind the times a bit, but isn't nanotechnology still in its infancy? I thought that we didn't have working nanotechnology of any sort yet. Do we need to start classifying bionanotechnology vs. regular nanotechnology yet?

    If I understand what they are doing correctly, they are attacking the subset of nanotech that is designed for (hopefully) medical purposes. (OK, so the chances of a big chunk of nanites going into the "We promise not to use it!" vault of weapons is pretty high.) Why don't they just use seperate words?

    I feel bad for the people who will have to say: "I work on nuclearfissonheattransferalnanotechnology." Head it off before it begins!

    Seriously, is there anything to discuss about this workshop other than the fact that it being held and the name smacks of silliness?

    B. Elgin

  • by belgin ( 111046 )
    Quoth Mike Meyers:

    "Bionanotechnology is neither Bio-, nor Nano-, nor technology. Discuss."

    B. Elgin

  • Thanks. It is good to know that this is something useful. Once again, however there is a lack of excessively easily accessible data beyond the fact that this is happening, and since when does more than 1% of /.ers bother to do some sort of research to discuss something?

    Seriously, though, I hope that the approval of viral vectors in vaccinations comes up at some point. We look rather silly knowing about potiential vaccinations for diseases like AIDS using malarial and rabies vectors combined with partial HIV proteins, yet being unable to ever devlop the vaccines. Heck, we can't even test them on willing subjects if I am properly informed.

    B. Elgin

  • Here []'s a link to Feynman's famous talk, "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom." A very interesting read. Especially considering it was given in 1959!!
  • When most people hear the words nanotechnology (or in this case bionanotechnology) their minds almost automatically go to cool little computer gadgets and the bionic woman (well, we all go there sometimes). But in all seriousness, bionanotechnology is already planned for use in alot of phase I and pre phase I cures for cancer and similar disease. No technogadgets are involved, only goold ol genetic engineering of viruses and such that are 'fixed' to go after the cancerous, or otherwise evil cells. Then there are also some freaks like the guy who would be Borg (forgot his name, but he's put some neat gadgets into his body) who push the limits of bionanotechnology and turn everyone into skeptics. So let's keep it real so that more respected scientists flock to this field and one day cures the ever evil common cold.
  • It's not clear why a formalized guideline is necessary: after all, most people pretty much do what they think is right, and the ones who aren't bothered by their own conscience won't pay much attention to a guideline (i.e., the conscience of others). A good example is commercial programs with GPLed code -- they do it anyway.

    And most people (in a given culture) have a fairly similar notion of what's right and what isn't -- and in those areas where there's significant scatter of belief, attempts to form a consensus often succeed in merely polarizing the population (think about the ethics of abortion, or about genetically engineered foods, if you need examples). So guidelines tend to be either fairly trivial, or they amount to forcing views down the dissenters' throats...

    The answer has been suggested elsewhere: the technology usually generates its own fixes for the problems it introduces. What I think we need is a free hand to operate at both ends of the spectrum -- because controls in the form of an effective (read, "enforceable") guideline will only keep the ethical from developing the fixes, while leaving the unethical free to do what they're going to do anyway.


  • Bionanotechnology is generally the use of biological products to operate on the nanometer scale. This means engineered activators and gene snippers and diagnostic tools, most of which are based on viruses and cells-with-stuff-on-them.

    Nanotechnology is generally the use of inorganic chemicals with measurable quantum and electromechanical interactions. It refers to a technology far more in its infancy, more closely related to condensed matter and surface physics than to biotech.
  • Five years ago, the NIH (www, []) funded an investigation [] into the viability of these methods of vaccination which found that retrovirus research had a good chance of applicability in combating AIDS. I'm still wondering what happened with a lot of the recommendations of the report, but it remains an extremely good read. Also on the NIH page is a much more detailed announcement of another bionanotech conference [].
  • by Grant Elliott ( 132633 ) on Tuesday March 28, 2000 @01:56PM (#1164200)
    One of the more interesting tidbits about nanotechnology is who first presented the idea as a possibility. In fact, he was none other than the great Richard Feynman.

    In case you don't know, Feynman was a leading physicists of the 20th century. He went to school at MIT and Princeton, worked at Los Alamos, investigated Challenger, and taught at Princeton. He was a very interesting guy. If you ever get a chance, read one of his books, such as "Surely you're joking Mr. Feynman" or "What do you care what other people think." Quite a character. Feynman was in the news recently as the only modern physicist to make the top 10 physicists of all time (He was number 7).

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (3) Ha, ha, I can't believe they're actually going to adopt this sucker.