Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research




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The Social and Economic Impacts of Nanotechnologies:

A Literature Review


Final Report

February 2009


Prepared for the

Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research


Submitted by:


Ms Kate Seear, Professor Alan Petersen

and Dr Diana Bowman


Monash University

Victoria, Australia


Acknowledgements

The authors of this Report gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the following: the staff of the Australian Office of Nanotechnology, in the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Professor Graeme Hodge, Centre for Regulatory Studies, Faculty of Law, Monash University, Dr Alison Anderson, School of Law and Social Sciences, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom, Ms. Kaitilin Lowdon, Faculty of Law, Monash University, Ms. Rosalind King, Faculty of Arts, Monash University, and Ms. Edwina Goh, School of Political and Social Inquiry, Faculty of Arts, Monash University.

The authors are especially grateful to Professor Hodge and Dr Anderson, who acted as consultants to the project. Both Professor Hodge and Dr Anderson provided invaluable advice and assistance in the identification of key literature in this field and in ensuring that the Report constituted an accurate summary of existing literature. They provided important assistance in ensuring the Report’s thoroughness, the extent to which it captured relevant issues in the literature both domestically and abroad and the academic rigour of the Report. In the final stages of this study, Ms. Kaitilin Lowdon provided invaluable editorial assistance by way of proof-reading the Report.


Table of Contents


List of Tables and Figures 4

Executive Summary 5

Abbreviations 8

1. Introduction 10

1.1 Background To This Review 10

1.2 Review Aims 12

1.3 Definitional Issues 14

1.4 Method 16

1.5 Limitations of the Methods Used 20

2. An Overview of the Literature 21

2.1 The Historical Context 21

2.2 Trends in the Literature 26

2.3 Present Findings in Comparison to Previous Reviews 28

2.4 Gaps in Existing Literature 29

3. The Social and Economic impacts of Nanotechnologies 31

3.1 Risk Communication and Risk Perception 31

3.2 The Nanotechnology Regulatory Debate 34

3.3 Privacy and Surveillance 41

3.4 Human Enhancement 45

3.5 Nano-divides and Nano-districts: Risks and Opportunities 50

3.6 Economic Implications and the Economic Driving Forces of Nanotechnologies 57

3.7 Employment 68

3.8 Intellectual Property Rights 73

3.9 Insurance and Re-Insurance 80

5. Conclusion 87

Appendix A: Annotated Reference List 89

Appendix B: Key Websites for Information on Nanotechnologies 96

Appendix C: References 98

List of Tables and Figures



Tables

Table 1 – Search Vocabulary for Literature Review

Page 16

Table 2 – Summary of Incentives and Disincentives for Firm and Government investment in NT.

Page 59


Figures

Figure 1 – Timeline for beginning of industrial prototyping and nanotechnology commercialisation: Four overlapping generations of products and processes

Page 21

Figure 2 – Search results through the ISI Web of Science Database using combinations of key search vocabulary (nano*/social/economic) 1993-2008

Page 24

Figure 3 – Nanotech Adds Value Across Industry Value Chain in Three Stages

Page 54

Figure 4 – Global nanotech funding 2004 ($US billions)

Page 57

Figure 5 – Corporate nanotech funding by country 2004 ($US billions)

Page 57

Figure 6 – Estimated government nanotechnology R&D expenditure, 1997-2004 ($US millions / year)

Page 58

Figure 7 – Number of nanotechnology patents published by the USPTO, EPO and JPO according to publication date

Page 68



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