There is insufficient regulation of nanotechnology. Regulation of nanotechnology will be developed by national and international public authorities, but may also take the form of voluntary standards, for instance, as developed by the ISO. An advantage of the ISO system is that their standards are recognised worldwide and are familiar to most organisations. ISO is now developing new standards for nanotechnology.However, several ethical issues do not seem to be included in the existing initiatives, for inst ance social justice issues, human enhancement issues, invasion of privacy, creation of transhumans, etc.
This project will determine to what extent ethical evaluations are part of the standardisation work today and what the potential for such inclusion o f ethics in ISO standards seems to be. This is a timely project, as there is currently a large effort in the ISO on developing standards for nanotechnology, and a standard for ethical evaluation of nanotechnology would benefit from synergies with the work already going on in ISO. Based on the findings it will suggest further needs for ethics to be implemented in the nano standardisation work.
The research questions are:
- To what extent have ethical considerations been taken into account so far in the st andardization process for nanotechnology?
- Is there a perceived need for a more formal approach to nanotechnology ethics in the form of a guide or new standards to ensure that an ethical evaluation is done in a systematic way?
-Is it possible to bring in stakeholder representation in the ISO committees in order to enhance stakeholder legitimacy of the ethics standard?
The project will consist of a survey and a workshop. The survey will go to more than 100 ISO nanotechnology experts (from universities, research institutes and industry). The workshop will include some nanotech experts, as well as ELSA experts and stakeholder representatives.