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Nanotechnology - Promise and perils

Anthropologists like Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Amy Wolfe don't assume that technology always makes for a better life. Instead, they take a longer view and want to know what implications are likely over time and possible consequences whether the technologies and applications work or do not work as planned. "As social scientists, our job is to provide an analytical approach that asks better questions to help people make wiser choices," said Wolfe, a member of ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division. Wolfe, co-editor John Stone of Michigan State University and a dozen other anthropologists examine in detail the bigger issues of nanotechnology in society in the Spring 2006 issue (Vol. 28, No. 2) of Practicing Anthropology. "Taken together, this collection of articles demonstrates that anthropologists and social scientists are far from passive or retrospective viewers of the rapid emergence of the nanoscience and nanotechnologies that may change our world," Wolfe and Stone write in the introduction. "The authors are front and center in the unfolding nanotechnology revolution."