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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Will Small be Beautiful? Making Policies for our Nanotech Future

  • Author(s): McCray, W. Patrick
  • et al.

With the passage of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) in 2000, US investment in nanotechnology research and development soared quickly to almost US$1 billion annually. The NNI emerged at a salient point in US history as lawmakers worked to reshape national science policies in response to growing international economic competition and the increasing commercialization of academic science. This paper examines how advocates of nanotechnology successfully marketed their initiative. It pays especial attention to their optimistic depiction of societies and economies improved by nanotechnology, and considers why utopian techno-visions continue to flourish despite their tendency to ultimately disappoint.

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