01 July 2008

Nanotechnology Boom: Speculation, exaggeration and hysteria

Nanometer1 Introduction.

Currently, nanotechnology is one of the most intensively discussed topics in the scientific community.

In 2002, the number of mentions of the word "nanotechnology" in print publications exceeded four thousand and currently continues to grow exponentially (Fig. 1).

According to scientists' forecasts, nanotechnology can be of great benefit in almost all areas of human activity, for example, when creating new materials with unique properties, for improving electronic devices, designing environmentally friendly industrial processes, and searching for new medicines. The success of nanotechnology is associated, first of all, with the fact that it is in nanometer-sized systems that the transition from individual behavior of atoms to collective behavior occurs. The ability to control such systems will make it possible to purposefully create atomic, molecular and supramolecular ensembles with specified properties, which opens the way to fundamentally new materials and processes that will significantly exceed the efficiency of what currently exists.

Such a promising field of modern science and technology cannot but cause a public reaction and generates discussions about the possible prospects and hidden dangers of nanotechnology. On the other hand, all research related to nanotechnology is considered extremely promising and therefore has a chance to receive increased funding. Currently, the prefix "nano" is used in many scientific publications and grant applications in chemistry, materials science and solid state physics, and its use is not always justified from a scientific point of view. In addition, the words about nanotechnology can increase the investment attractiveness of various enterprises, as well as the demand for various goods, for example, containing nanoscale particles or produced using nanotechnology. However, on the other hand, it is difficult to convict scientists and businessmen of speculating in order to get money for research or business development, since in some cases they achieve real success, make scientific discoveries and create really new materials, devices or medicines that had no analogues before.

Such a contradictory situation arising as a result of the interaction of advanced scientific and technological achievements and public reaction to them is reflected in the book "Nanohype. The truth behind the nanotechnology buzz" by David Berube, professor at the University of South Carolina, who is also the chief coordinator of research programs at the Nanocenter of the State of South Carolina (UCS Nanocenter). The term "nanohype" in this case means "excessive exaggeration" or "hype". In his book, David Berube collected and systematized various points of view on nanotechnology that exist in the United States to enable the reader to figure out for himself what benefits nanotechnology can be and what dangers they pose to humanity, what results have been achieved at the moment and what opportunities there are in the future, what is the role of scientists, technologists, businessmen and government agencies in the development of nanotechnology. According to the author, reading exciting press releases about outstanding achievements in the field of nanotechnology and seeing tempting advertisements for nanoproducts, everyone is obliged to think about the following questions:

- is nanotechnology really a technology in the sense of the method of production of various products, or is it reduced to nanoscience, that is, to the observation, explanation and prediction of phenomena in the nanometer range? But even if nanotechnology is reduced to nanoscience, what new does it bring in comparison with chemistry, condensed matter physics and other long-known sciences that have studied such phenomena before?

- Is nanotechnology reduced only to the areas of interest of various communities: scientists seeking research funding, businessmen developing their business, or other groups solving their problems?

- Should we believe the frightening predictions about nanorobots that can get out of human control and destroy all living things? Are nanoparticles toxic and carcinogenic?

The book consists of eleven chapters dealing with various speculations and hysteria around nanotechnology, the role of government agencies and non-governmental organizations in the development of nanotechnology, nanotechnology development strategies followed by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, possible applications of nanoscience achievements, industrial aspects of nanotechnology, toxicological issues and environmental safety, as well as social and ethical aspects. In this abstract, the main attention will be paid to the first two chapters: "Exaggeration, hyperbole and hysteria" ("Exaggeration, hyperbole and hype-steria") and "Speculation and criticism of nanotechnology" ("Speculation and criticism about the nanotechnology"). My interest in these issues is due to the fact that when studying at the Faculty of Materials Sciences various aspects that can be attributed to nanotechnology (for example, in the framework of special courses "Nanomaterials", "Physics of low-dimensional systems" and "Modern functional Materials"), no attention is paid to these topics. At the same time, the attitude of society can be of great importance for the development of this newly emerged field of knowledge, and it is not yet clear whether we are witnessing the birth of a new field of science or are witnessing one of the most ambitious speculations in the history of science.

2 Exaggeration, hyperbolism and hysteriaAccording to Katherine Hayles, nanotechnology can currently play a significant role in the culture of society.

They do not contain practically any new theoretical knowledge, however, joint consideration of results from various fields of natural sciences in combination with the use of the most modern devices gives a synergetic effect and leads to the fact that science reaches a new interdisciplinary level [2].

However, in order to justify the significant costs of scientific research and the constant attention of the media to nanotechnology, this idea often appears in a significantly exaggerated form and is presented as something new and extremely attractive. According to Tim Harper [3], no one is engaged in real nanotechnology, since it is not and will not be a technology in itself. Currently, it is believed that nanoscience and nanotechnology are the results of the evolution of science, which appeared at the end of the twentieth century. At the same time, their appearance gave rise to a number of specific social phenomena that can be united by a common feature: hyperbole or exaggeration.

2.1 Hyperbola as a variableNew technologies have always attracted the attention of the public, including the technically educated part of society.

On the one hand, nanotechnology is positioned as a new field of knowledge, which in the future will allow humanity to solve the currently existing energy, environmental, medical and other problems. On the other hand, it also has a number of negative associations, so its achievements are often perceived with anxiety, distrust and generate speculation about the dangers to humanity. This, of course, does not mean that exclusively nanotechnology "attracts" all kinds of speculation. For example, Pat Mooney ETC states: "There are always exaggerations. Over the past century, there has not been a single technology that has not been accompanied by speculation."[4] This is true, but the scale of hyperbole was much smaller, and the protection of nanotechnology from various kinds of criticism is much more intense. In addition, hyperbole is equally used by both defenders and opponents of nanotechnology, including Mooney himself.

"Hyperbole contains a thought that distorts reality so much that the listener does not take it literally" [5]. However, despite the fact that most of the exaggerations are obvious, since they are absurd, some of them are not so easy to recognize. Often hyperbole along with irony is used to make it easier for the listener to understand the speaker. However, if one day the audience takes hyperbole literally, it turns out to be almost impossible to convince people that they were wrong. In this case, the refutations are ineffective. It turns out that the listener's concept matrix is damaged and needs correction. However, a person himself must understand that he was mistaken, and this can be difficult, because the use of disproportionate concepts attracts attention precisely because they most strongly affect the interests of the target group in the audience. Thus, if the audience took the hyperbole literally, it is necessary to re-examine and correct the process that led to the misunderstanding.

As an example illustrating this problem, Don Eigler from IBM cites stories about sea monsters that existed in Europe before Columbus sailed to the shores of America. These monsters lived in the Atlantic Ocean and could destroy any ship in the open sea. These stories existed regardless of the fact that they were not empirically confirmed.

The misunderstanding associated with the misinterpretation of hyperbole is not the most severe case. Sometimes there is a consistent hyperbolization of already existing hyperboles caused by the desire to get quick profit from confused people. Often, journalists, politicians and just famous people recommend "nanotech" to ordinary people - products of companies that have nothing to do with nanotechnology.

Who needs a nanohyperbola? Anyone who wants to benefit from the nanotechnology initiative in any way, regardless of the ultimate goals. These include dreamers, bureaucrats, officials, leaders of industrial corporations, recipients of government grants, bankers-investors. Besides them, there are other communities that benefit from the hype around nanotechnology. These are various mass media and non-governmental organizations that are fueling interest in nanotechnology in order to increase their funding, as well as various losers and cranks.

Exaggerations accompany all the effects that can only be expected from nanotechnology. "Their capabilities are considered extraordinary. They make it possible to reduce energy consumption significantly. Their contribution to the success of medicine is fundamental. They radically increase the accuracy and effectiveness of weapons [7]."This leads to the fact that "Nanotechnology experts around the world have come to the conclusion that the hype around nanotechnology (that is, unfounded claims that nanotechnology can do everything) may in the future be an important factor in the emergence of rejection of nanotechnology in society" [8]. That is, it is necessary to understand that we are waiting for a reckoning for taking on faith unlikely but extremely desirable events. "Such rhetoric can lead to the fact that people will abandon reasonable behavior, which is so necessary for us at the present time. The promise of future technologies that do not need resources may provoke the waste of resources now. Stories about completely clean technologies and the destruction of all waste dissuades people from the need to think about the pollution they produce in the course of their life" [9].

Despite all this, there is at least one thought that can serve as a more or less rational justification for the hyperbolization of everything related to nanotechnology – "progress is progressing at such a pace that exceeds the wildest forecasts" [10]. In other words, there are not enough communication tools in society to describe newly discovered phenomena, and therefore it is necessary to resort to literary means. Just as a professor uses analogies and comparisons when explaining something new to students, hyperbolization and exaggerations are used when ordinary descriptions cannot be fully understood by people. Thus, hyperbolization is applied when the means of language are insufficient to describe everything that happens in a new field of knowledge.

If we consider the development of nanotechnology over time, it turns out that hyperbolization is mainly associated with concepts that arose ten or more years ago. Moreover, the most intense exaggeration of the possibilities of nanotechnology is associated with molecular devices – that is, molecules whose structure repeats the structure of various mechanisms that Eric Drexler actively popularized in his works. The main idea of Drexler and his supporters was that the appearance of nanorobots assemblers capable of creating any objects by assembling from atoms would lead to revolutionary transformations of all technologies or to the disappearance of humanity from the face of the Earth.

It should be noted that the "nano prefix" is an unmistakable tool for finding investors. The number of cheap companies whose name, one way or another, is related to nanotechnology is growing day by day" [11]. "Now nanotechnologies have gained huge popularity not only in the scientific community, and therefore attract a huge number of crooks who trade by adding the prefix "nano" to the name of their company" [12]. An example of such a phenomenon is the company US Global Nanospace, engaged in the production of weapons. "But the name is not the only thing that makes no sense in this context. The fact is that this company, with an asset value of about 85 million US dollars, brought in 2002 only 125,679 thousand dollars in profit, despite the fact that net losses amounted to about 7 million dollars" [11]. Another example is the company NanoPierce, also known as Sunlight Systems or Maldell–Denver, whose activities have nothing to do with nanotechnology [11]. According to Manuel Ansensio, executive director of the investment company Ansensio & Co, the label "nano" has become so popular that its use has become a favorite technique when making fraudulent transactions [13]. This causes daily harm to investors and entrepreneurs [14]. In turn, the oversaturation of the information environment with various speculations on the topic of "nano" leads to the fact that investors are wary of enterprises that position themselves as "nanotechnology companies". Therefore, at present, many companies, including those that actually use nanotechnology in the production of their products, prefer not to use too intrusive references to its use in advertising their products [15].

The hype covering everything related to nanotechnology has an impact not only on financial markets and the commercial sphere. Many scientists also hold the opinion that there is also a lot of speculation in the scientific field that overestimates the possibilities of nanotechnology [16]. This situation is further aggravated by the fact that as long as scientists – especially those who work at universities, and not in production or in private companies – have unrealistic hopes, nanotechnology will remain an area teeming with various kinds of slang terms, interdisciplinary confusion and other problems.

However, the matter is not limited to this. Now nanocentres are being opened in many universities, the creation of which usually boils down to the relocation of a department of the Faculty of Natural Sciences to a separate building or simply to separate premises. Apart from the new name, as well as increased support from the administration, little has changed. Senator Wyden, during the first hearing on the national program for research and development in the 21st century, said: "It's funny that now almost all scientists in the world are engaged in nanotechnology. In the 90s there was another fashion, always put after the name dot.com and now everyone intends to put "nano" before the name of what he is doing" [17].

Thus, there are currently two directions in the field of nanotechnology. One is based on the actual developments of industrial corporations and scientific laboratories of universities and scientists and the results of programs funded by the government – based on the achievements of chemistry, physics and materials science, which can really lead to a technological breakthrough in the coming decades. Supporters of another trend – which mainly includes inventions from the field of scientific and not very scientific fiction – predict a revolutionary change in human capabilities, but such a forecast is based rather on metaphors and does not carry an accurate calculation. Nevertheless, it is the latter direction that has the greatest impact on people who do not have a special scientific or technical education.

Hyperbole is a literary device designed to draw attention to a previously unnoticed object by exaggerating any of its qualities. Like many exaggerations, she begins to live her life and this continues until someone comes to mind to check her out. However, if it happens that the real products produced with the help of nanotechnology reach consumers and do not meet their expectations, we can expect that they will be disappointed, and taxpayers will start asking questions about the price of the failed experiment. This will be due to the fact that the use of hyperbole leads to inflated expectations. If nanotechnology is declared a national task, as, for example, in the case of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in the United States, which depends on taxpayers' money, the failure of such a program poses great dangers to the state of society.

Gartner, a company specializing in marketing research and providing consulting services, managed to establish general patterns of development of public reaction to the new technology. Such a model was built on the basis of society's reaction to the emergence of Internet technologies and other popular goods and services. According to these studies, the cycle of technology development begins with a significant interest that is aroused in society (in the development of nanotechnology in the United States, this stage corresponds to the emergence of the National Nanotechnology Initiative). The public reaction passes through the "peak" of unreasonable expectations, at this stage, the organizers of various advertising companies, conferences and publishers of popular scientific advertising literature mainly receive a lot of money. However, then there is disappointment and a sharp drop in popularity. At the next stage, the more or less positive attitude of society or at least part of it is restored, and the technology reaches the "plateau of productivity". At this stage, most of the speculation ends, and the hard and successful work of professionals begins, which really leads to impressive results [18]. At the moment, public reaction is on the rise, and, obviously, is already close to the "peak of unreasonable expectations." Stanley Williams, an employee of Hewlett Packard, fears that if public expectations grow as fast, then the inevitable disappointment in the rainbow illusions that surround nanotechnology will lead to nanotechnology losing the trust of people for a long time [19].

Unfortunately, it must be stated that since the majority of society is insufficiently educated in the scientific and technical field, only a few can distinguish truly outstanding prospects from exaggerations made for advertising purposes or from various kinds of speculation. Hyperbole should not be understood in the literal sense of the word, but how can a simple person distinguish what is hyperbole and what is not? The matter is complicated by the fact that in addition to positive prospects, in some cases, on the contrary, extremely gloomy predictions appear. One example of this approach is the "gray slime" – a fantastic phenomenon described by Eric Drexler.

3 Protection and criticism of nanotechnology in the scientific and near-scientific communityIn the scientific environment, an important role in the perception of new ideas is played by authoritative personalities – those who have achieved significant success in a particular field.

In the case of nanotechnology, reputable scientists can be divided into two large groups – defenders and critics.

3.1 Defenders of nanotechnology3.1.1 Richard Feynman

Richard Feynman was perhaps one of the first scientists to link the future of humanity with nanotechnology.

Richard Feynman was a brilliant scientist, winner of the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics. Feynman's role in the development of nanotechnology is not completely clear. However, his catch phrase "There's a lot of space down there", which served as the title for a lecture at the meeting of the American Physical Society in December 1959, inspires adherents of nanotechnology to this day. In this report, R. Feynman mainly discussed the problem of miniaturization of various mechanical devices and information storage facilities, and also argued that it was possible to circumvent many of the limitations that existed at that time when working at the micron and submicron level [20, 21].

In February 1983, R. Feynman again made a report on the same topic. Then he had to admit that the devices he had talked about in 1959 had not yet found a real application [22], and perhaps the dreams of small mechanisms were delusions. He named a number of problems that may arise when designing such devices (for example, an energy source, positioning and motion control), and even proposed a theoretical solution for some of them (for example, to reduce the influence of friction). In conclusion, he spoke about the possible role of micro devices in creating quantum computers and performing calculations on them.

The main idea that Feynman came to when thinking about micron mechanisms was that a person can learn from nature by imitating it when creating mechanisms "from the bottom up". For example, he himself said that the way he sees the beauty of a flower is very different from how an artist sees it, since he can imagine a flower not only on a centimeter scale, but see all its cells and imagine all the complex processes that occur in them, and this also has a peculiar beauty [23]. Feynman's colleague, Gleick, believed that his interest in molecular and atomic structures was due to the fact that he thought a lot about the second principle of thermodynamics and the relationship between entropy and information. He found the ability of living organisms to store and reproduce genetic information to create complex mechanisms that conditioned their existence amazing [24].

For Feynman, the main value of science was the ability to make extrapolations [24]. In his opinion, speculations about micro- and nano-worlds are useful, even if it is not yet possible to explore real objects [24]. He believed that "in order to solve a problem that has never been solved before, it is necessary to open the door and step into the unknown. It is necessary to imagine opportunities that may not exist at the moment. The speed of the development of science is determined not by how fast we record observations, but by how quickly we can find or create what we can observe. What we call scientific knowledge today is just a collection of certain assumptions, true or false with varying degrees of probability. Some of them are more accurate, some are less, but not one is absolutely true" [25].

It should be noted that the thoughts expressed by Feynman did not have too much influence on the development of any new areas of research. His reasoning was too speculative, and therefore was not considered by the scientific community as the beginning of a new research program. And although his statement "There is a lot of space down there" is often mentioned in connection with nanotechnology, another scientist, Eric Drexler, is still considered the "father of nanotechnology".

3.1.2 Eric DrexlerDrexler (Eric Drexler) and Feynman saw the implementation of nanotechnology in practice in different ways.

If Feynman believed that it is enough to simply make very small mechanisms, and control at the atomic level is not important, Drexler, on the contrary, believed that nanoscale mechanisms can and should be assembled at the atomic and molecular level [19].

Drexler's book "Machines of Creation", published in 1986, was his first work aimed at the mass reader. This book is a unique futurological work. Of course, it cannot be considered as a completely realistic work, because firstly, this reduces its artistic value, and secondly, makes its main provisions extremely vulnerable to criticism. However, the author himself does not consider his book exclusively as futurological fiction, and this only provokes various kinds of speculation.

In "Machines of Creation" Drexler considers the possibility of creating nanorobots or assemblers – submicron-sized devices that, firstly, could be programmed to create various objects useful to humans in the presence of a nutrient medium, and secondly, to produce their own kind. The second trait certainly makes assemblers extremely similar to living organisms. Drexler also came up with a variant of the end of the world with the participation of assemblers – if they get out of human control, turn into the so-called "gray slime" and destroy all life on Earth. It should be noted that the rise of robots is far from a new plot in science fiction – it is worth remembering, for example, the works of Stanislav Lem or the film "Terminator". However, since nanotechnology has attracted significant funding, it is this fantastic plot that has caused, perhaps, the most heated discussion in the scientific and near-scientific environment. Quite a lot of critics of Drexler's ideas have appeared, debunking both "gray slime" and assemblers. For example, Robert Feritas, an expert in the field of nanomedicine, wrote a paper "Some restrictions concerning the threat of destruction of the biosphere by nanoassemblers and recommendations for public safety", where he says that the invasion of "gray slime" consisting of nanorobots reproducing themselves at high speed will cause a strong increase in temperature, that will allow humanity to respond to this and counter the threat. If the speed of their action is not very high, and a strong increase in temperature does not occur, then the destruction of the entire biosphere will require at least twenty months, and therefore a lot of time for people to come up with. how to deal with them. In his article, he also provides calculations confirming his assumptions [26].

Bill Joy described in detail the death of mankind as a result of uncontrolled reproduction of assemblers in his article [27]. However, this caused a rather weak reaction from Drexler and his followers: "Despite the fact that the story about the "gray slime" is very exciting, however, the research that is currently being conducted in the field of molecular assembly has nothing to do with it. The idea that molecular nanotechnology systems can get out of control is based on outdated information" [28].

In 2004, Drexler had to finally abandon the idea of assemblers capable of reproducing themselves. He himself debunked this myth, noting that nanodevices are unlikely to be able to contain systems thanks to which they can reproduce themselves, as well as create raw materials for building their own kind from objects surrounding them, since there is no need for this [29-31]. Thus, the idea of "gray slime" suffered a complete defeat.

Despite this, it must be said that it was Drexler's ideas that made it possible to receive high funding for the US National Nanotechnology Initiative. However, after the funding was received, the ideas of molecular assembly had to be abandoned in favor of more conservative techniques of modern technology. However, at present, the hype around nanotechnology, on the contrary, may scare off investors. This is due to the fact that now absolutely extraordinary things are expected from nanotechnology, for example, nanorobots in the human body that could "repair" diseased organs, while now the scientific and technological communities can offer mainly only ultrafine powders. In this regard, now with the development of nanotechnology, it is necessary to build a more complex strategy of interaction between scientists and technologists with the public, since rosy promises now cause only rejection. 3.2 Criticism

It should be noted that the critical attitude towards nanotechnology is quite widespread in the scientific community.

On the one hand, this criticism refers specifically to Drexler's views on the possibility of molecular assembly, and a number of scientists are very contemptuous of these ideas. Another group of critics has, as a rule, more idealized ideas about nanotechnology, and mainly considers medical, environmental and social aspects of nanotechnology.

3.2.1 Technical criticism3.2.1.1 George Whitesides

George Whitesides is an extremely respected figure in the scientific world.

He is currently a professor at Harvard University. Whitesides studies processes and phenomena at the nanometer level, in particular, it was he who developed the technique of soft lithography, as well as technological techniques for obtaining self-assembling layers. However, as a chemist, he saw many shortcomings and discrepancies in Drexler's work concerning molecular assembly. He expressed the main ideas and his view of Drexler's work in his work "Nanomachines: the possibility of existence one day in the future" [31]. Perhaps the most serious criticisms were the following:

- Small devices have a very large ratio between the number of atoms on the surface and in the internal volume, which can lead to both positive and negative effects. This will definitely create problems for the functioning of such devices [31,32].

- Where will the autonomous nanorobot get its energy from?

- How will the nanorobot store and collect information?

- Before talking about technologies related to the work of nanorobots, it is necessary to learn how to create nanomechanisms in quantities sufficient for practical use;

- In order to accurately manipulate individual atoms, the tentacles of a nanorobot must be smaller than atoms. But this cannot be, since they must also have mechanisms that set them in motion, which cannot consist of anything other than the same atoms [33];

- There may be another problem with atoms: many atoms are connected by strong enough bonds with their neighbors, and it will be very problematic to separate them in order to assemble something new [32].

After such objections, which are difficult to argue with, Whitesides examines a blatant example of hyperbolization associated with nanomachines. This is the idea of creating a nanorobot that could travel inside the human body and diagnose or repair damaged organs and tissues. Such a robot would have at least three problems – energy supply, orientation in space, and information collection and storage [33]. Therefore, it is hardly possible to create a device of this kind that could be so small as to move freely through the human body. In an interview, he said, "undoubtedly, the idea of an assembler nanorobot is very attractive, but there are myriad insurmountable obstacles to its implementation in practice. This attraction is illusory, nanorobots should be perceived more as a metaphor than as a means of solving real problems" [34]. Richard SmalleyRichard Smalley received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry as one of the authors of the discovery of a new allotropic form of carbon – fullerenes.

Most of his work was related to the search for ways to apply the achievements of nanotechnology in alternative energy. The scientific group headed by Smalley was engaged in the construction of complex molecular mechanisms by conducting multi-stage organic reactions. In addition, he managed to organize a small company (Carbon Nanotechnology Inc.), which was engaged in the production of carbon nanotubes and commercialization of various materials based on them.

It should be noted that Smalley turned out to be surprisingly intolerant of Drexler's semi-fantastic ideas. During a public discussion with Drexler of the assembler problem, he deliberately simplifies the idea of nanorobots and presents them exclusively in the form of crude mechanisms compared to single molecules. In this regard, he discusses the problems of "thick fingers" (which consisted in the fact that a nanorobot would not be able to manipulate individual atoms and build molecules out of them using manipulators, which would also necessarily have to consist of atoms) and "sticky fingers" (which was based on the inevitable interaction between the robot manipulator and atoms – building material). In addition, Smalley calculated that even if a nanorobot creates something at a speed of one million atoms per second, it will take at least 19 million years to create an object weighing 30 grams [34]. Undoubtedly, such a simplification, firstly, did not fully reflect Drexler's ideas, and secondly, did not take into account the latest discoveries in the field of enzymatic and other reactions in which atomic assembly occurs, but mechanical robots with manipulators are not needed for this at all.

The dispute between Drexler and Smalley continued for some time, but no useful ideas for the further development of nanotechnology were born from it. Over time, Smalley simply stopped putting forward new arguments and it all ended by itself.

3.2.2 Unscientific criticismIn addition to scientists, there is another group of people who are concerned about the development of nanotechnology.

David Berube cites the ideas of only two of them, although in fact, there are undoubtedly many more. Bill JoyBill Joy is an employee of Sun Microsystems.

If Drexler was the first to warn mankind about the possibility of uncontrolled reproduction of nanorobots, then Joy was the person who was able to significantly popularize this idea. In his article, he writes "we are on the threshold of a great evil" [27]. "We are creating a technology that can destroy the biosphere." With the help of the wonders of nanotechnology, "Plants with artificial leaves can be created that can convert solar energy more efficiently than modern solar panels and displace ordinary plants" [35]. Artificial bacteria will displace living ones and will multiply so quickly that they will be able to turn all living things on Earth into dust in a few days" [36]. Joy proposes to ban all public and private scientific developments related to nanotechnology, as they will lead to dangerous results [37].

But no one takes his warnings seriously. "His concerns about the safety of nanotechnology are naive, limited and totalitarian. His fears are refuted by his own arguments and the reality in which we exist. Despite the fact that he is trying to play the wise man, his manifesto sounds childish" [37]. Zac GoldsmithZach Goldsmith is the owner and editor of The Ecologist magazine.

In this magazine, he publishes popular science articles that could be understandable to ordinary people. The Ecologist magazine is one of the main publications that popularize the ideas of anti-globalism. Also on its pages there is a discussion of the dangers associated with the use of genetically modified products.

As for nanotechnology, he is also a supporter of the idea that "gray slime", that is, self-replicating robots can be dangerous. "People perceive discoveries negatively because scientists have made too many mistakes: DDT, freons, thalidomide… But the consequences of nanotechnology can be much more serious than what we have faced before" [34]. "Many laboratories around the world are trying to create machines capable of self-replication. It is necessary to take this under strict control and hold a public debate before it is too late."

Thus, Zac Goldsmith is mainly known for his arguments against genetically modified foods and "gray slime". No one would have paid attention to such arguments if Zac Goldsmith had not had a great influence on Prince Charles, who has great political weight.

4 ConclusionAs can be seen from the book by D. Berube, nanotechnology worries not only scientists, but also politicians, businessmen, and journalists.

There are many different speculations around this new field of knowledge, and one can often hear that nanotechnology will solve almost all the problems of humanity. In Russian society, interest in nanotechnology began to manifest itself much later than in European or American, but already now we can see that great hopes are pinned on them, and at the same time we are witnessing a wave of various kinds of speculation.

So, in 2007, a new division was created in the Russian Academy of Sciences – the Department of Nanotechnology. Of course, nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field in which scientific results from a wide variety of fields of science can be used. However, from the point of view of administrative logic, the creation of a nanotechnology department can be quite justified. Apparently, it will help the state by selecting and financing truly nanotechnological areas, starting from purely scientific developments. And the design of specific developments into tangible products, obviously, should become the prerogative of Rosnanotech.

This state corporation also appeared in 2007. Huge funds by the standards of Russian science were allocated to the authorized capital of the corporation – 130 billion rubles, and another 50 billion was ordered to be raised at open competitions. This corporation will have to provide organizational and financial support for research and development in the field of nanotechnology, the introduction of nanotechnology, as well as financing projects for the training of specialists in the field of nanotechnology. However, Rosnanotech has not yet taken a single decisive step towards scientists or new technologies. Such cautious behavior may indicate a lack of a clear understanding of where to direct the fabulous budget [38].

On the other hand, according to Alexander Kostinsky, an employee of Rosnanotech, the corporation's goals have been clearly defined since the adoption of the law on its organization: by 2015, Russia's share should be at least 4% of the global nanotechnology market. The task of Rosnanotech is not to spend, but to invest public funds in the most promising technologies, therefore, the corporation is involved in the process of interaction with scientists at the stage when there are already specific experimental design developments that are attractive to businessmen. Alexander Kostinsky called stimulating large businesses to invest in nanotechnology one of the main tasks of the state corporation. The most promising areas from the point of view of Rosnanotech are: nanobiotechnology, materials science (in particular, the creation of new catalysts), optics and electronics (in particular, the development of LEDs). It is in these areas that the financing of about two dozen pilot projects will begin from the second half of 2008 [39].

Sergey Ivanov, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, has already responded to the hype that has arisen around nanotechnology: "Advertising products with the word "nanotechnology" is essentially an advertising trick. No more and no less. This has nothing to do with our council and the state corporation. This product, which is advertised, has not, of course, passed any licensing. I strongly doubt that there are any nanotechnologies there at all. I just want to warn citizens about this. They are already trying to fool them..."[40].

Georgy Malinetsky, Doctor of Physico-Mathematical Sciences, Deputy Director for Research at the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, believes that the nanotechnology initiative is a bluff, another way to "master" public money, since the natural cycle of innovation reproduction is disrupted in our country, and the Russian economy at the current stage of its development is not I am ready to use the advanced developments of scientists. According to Malinetsky, society is being misled: what people have always done is now commonly referred to as the buzzword "nano", but in fact, the goal of both scientists and the state should not be nanotechnology, but a concrete result, a useful product. The global nanotechnology market is already divided, and it will be very difficult for Russia, where the industry still uses outdated developments, to win back its segment in it. [39]

Despite such a skeptical attitude in our society, which has already arisen on the condition that the hype around them in Russia began much later than in the rest of the world, in my opinion, increasing state funding and stimulating fundamental research and applied developments in this area can bring a lot of benefits. This is due to the fact that, firstly, since nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary field, specialists from different fields will have to participate in the development of any direction, and their interaction will lead to the creation of new technologies that had no analogues before. On the other hand, nanotechnology requires updating both the instrumentation of scientific laboratories and production equipment. Thirdly, nanotechnology, as a new promising field in which good earnings are possible, can attract the attention of young people to natural sciences and technology, because it is no secret that over the past fifteen years, natural science and technology specialties have enjoyed much less popularity than, for example, economic or legal.

The fact that many technologies or research are now called nanotechnology, which in the strict sense of the word cannot be attributed to nanotechnology, should not always be perceived negatively. When the "fashion" for nanotechnology passes, it turns out that the "nano" prefix can be discarded without prejudice to the development, but at the same time, the funding that it can receive thanks to this prefix will allow them to develop. "To stay in place, you have to run with all your might. To move forward, you need to run twice as fast." – wrote Lewis Carroll in the book "Alice through the Looking Glass". The nanotechnology boom is something that can help Russian science, which is in a difficult situation, to find a new life, and new technologies – to get the support of the state and business.

5 ReferencesN.

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  6. These terms were drawn from Glenn Reynolds, "Forward to the future: Nano technology and regulatory policy", a Pacific Research Institute Paper, November 2002, p. 1
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  24. Bill Joy, "Why the future doesn't need us", Wired 8, no. 4 (April 2000) (accessed March 22, 2004).
  25. Center for Responsible Nanorechnology, "Grey Goo Is a Small Issue," 2003, (accessed December 1 5, 2003).
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