Dr Andrew Maynard, Chief Science Advisor, Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, USA
Summary: As we move further into the 21st century, we are facing a confluence of three factors that will shake up the interface between society and science. Nanoscale science and technology are enabling unprecedented control over matter, allowing living and non-living systems to be manipulated and used in radical new ways. Innovative new approaches to communication and networking are facilitating the emergence of virtual partnerships that transcend geographical, organizational and social boundaries. And society is now so closely coupled to the biosphere that our actions are stressing the system to a greater extent than ever before in human history.
This confluence of control, communication and coupling raises major challenges for society in the 21st century. But it also contains the seeds of effective solutions. However, to nurture and grow these seeds, new approaches to science and technology innovation will be needed. These will include developing research agendas that are driven by social challenges, engaging citizens through building constituencies, and cultivating scientists with a clear sense of civic responsibility.