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Issue #1349 - Thursday, February 13, 2003 - Editor: Jerry  

This issue features a few things I like a lot, like beaches and apple crisp, and other things I take an interest in. Interesting lengthy article on nanotechnology and ethics. Science writers take an article like that and write stories for popular newspapers, magazines and other media. How would a hard core nondualist science writer turn out such a story using the article? I don't know exactly, but themes of technology, ethics, what it means to be human, are also important in the genre of Japanese animation, of which Ghost in the Shell is an excellent example. I feel that people of all ages and throughout the world are familiar with these themes and while they may never be resolved once and for all, they come together to point to the ultimate question which resolves itself by being addressed. I am ... who?


Ghost In The Shell 
also see

In the year 2029, the world is made borderless by the net; augmented humans live in virtual environments, watched over by law enforcement that is able to download themselves into super-powered, crime busting mecha.

The ultimate secret agent of the future is not human, has no physical body and can freely travel the information highways of the world, hacking and manipulating whatever and whenever required.

The agent, created by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is designated code name Project 2501 and distanced from them under the pseudonym "The Puppet Master." 2501 seems to be the perfect solution to their international espionage requirements. Everything runs smoothly until this prototype virtual agent concludes it is a life form in its own right "born in a sea of information" and requests political asylum and true physical existence in defiance of its creator.

The race is on to recapture the Top Secret Project 2501 before it succeeds in finding a host body and escapes for good. What the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hasn't counted on is the Puppet Master's cunning and reserve. It has threatened to expose their illegal creation (itself) to the Internal Bureau of Investigations who are unaware of its source, and regard the Puppet Master as a Grade A priority security threat. The two agencies maneuver discreetly against one another in a violent, high-tech race to capture the ever changing omnipresent Puppet Master.

The Internal Bureau is unaware of the Puppet Master's persuasive ability to offer seductive hints at true freedom to their semi-cybernetic human agents, who are forced to question their own validity as human beings. One of these agents, Major Motoko Kusanagi, is a highly trained female agent sent to counter the Puppet Master's threat, will have to make the ultimate decision when the Puppet Master suggests a merger with her.

While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Internal Bureau of Investigations are engaged in direct explosive confrontation, Kusanagi must decide if she will fulfill the Puppet Master's ultimate objective to become truly human and exist outside of the Electronic Net.


Life at the Beach

by Carol Horne

What kind of beach goer are you?

Blissed Out at the Beach

This beach goer may be seen most often on white
sand beaches, of which there are miles. Often
in a prone, semi-conscious state, the
blissed-out beach goer hears only the surf and
the cries of the seagulls. Usually accompanied
by sunscreen and paperback novel. 

Gregarious Beach Goer

This gregarious species enjoys social contact
with other members of his flock and will
gravitate to locations where friends and
families may be found. Other possible landmarks
for this group: ice cream stand, volleyball
net, kites.

The Beach Lover

We have reason to believe that many of those
people who successfully found companions in the
personal ads take their "long walks on the
beach" in Prince Edward Island. For this
category, weather is not a factor, and pairs of
beach lovers may be spotted hand in hand in all
kinds of atmospheric conditions. Preferred
shorelines often located near cottages and inns
equipped with fireplace.

The Multi-generational Beach Goer

This clan loves the red and pink sands of the
Island's southshore where all shapes and sizes
are found playing in tidal pools, wading in the
quiet, shallow water that is warm as bath
water. Many members of this group are treasure
seekers, finding snails, starfish, minnows and
shells of all kinds.

The Clam Digger

Equipped with a bucket and shovel, the clam
digger is looking for a delicious snack of
steamed soft-shell bar clams or quahaugs. This
group chases squirting holes all over the
low-tide shore, capturing the delicious Island

The Beach Hugger

This beach goer is hungry for knowledge and
wants to absorb all the fascinating facts of
beach ecology, geology and archaeology. May be
identified by his notebook, camera and

The Beach Bird Watcher

May be hard to spot, as members of this group
are very still, attempting to blend into the
landscape. Equipped with scope, binoculars,
field guide and camera.

Adventurer at Sea

This shoreline species is more often spotted in
or on the water. May be carrying a paddle,
sailing on a board or found on the deck of an
excursion boat. Sometimes equipped with a mask
and snorkel. May be attired in colourful or
rubberized clothing.

The Beach Walker

Miles of sand are the only requirement of this
beach type, and they may be found at any of the
province's miles of beaches. Beach walkers are
comfortable in any type of clothing, but
usually prefer bare feet. Many have fallen into
a meditative state, and may be observed staring
off toward the horizon, or down into the
hypnotic patterns of the waves.

The Beach Camper

A species that likes to fall asleep lulled by
the sound of the surf, and wake to the cry of
seabirds. The beach camper does not mind sand
in his hot dogs, lumpy sleeping bags or even
the odd evening mosquito. The beach camper may
be identified by his massive collection of
gear; coolers and lawn chairs, toys and
umbrellas are the usual accoutrements of every
good and happy beach camper.

Maple Apple Crisp (Stirling Fruit Farms)

(250ml = 1 cup)

1500 ml (6 c). sliced, peeled Nova Scotia apples
150ml Nova Scotia maple syrup
125 ml all purpose flour
125ml rolled oats
125ml brown sugar
1ml salt
125ml butter

Arrange apples in greased 2.5L baking dish
(20cm square). Pour maple syrup over apples.
Combine flour, rolled oats, brown sugar and
salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles
coarse bread crumbs. Sprinkle topping over
apples. Bake at 375F until apples are tender
and topping is lightly browned about 35 min.
Makes 6 servings.

‘Mind the gap’: science and ethics in nanotechnology

Anisa Mnyusiwalla1,2,3, Abdallah S Daar1,2,3 and Peter A Singer1,2,3

1 University of Toronto Joint Center for Bioethics, Canada

2 Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada

3 Program in Applied Ethics and Biotechnology, University of Toronto

Joint Center for Bioethics, Canada

4 Departments of Public Health Sciences and Surgery, University of Toronto, Canada

5 Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Canada

Received 2 December 2002

Published 17 February 2003

Nanotechnology (NT) is a rapidly
progressing field. Advances will have a
tremendous impact on fields such as materials,
electronics, and medicine. A thorough review of
the current literature, governmental funding,
and policy documents was undertaken. Despite
the potential impact of NT, and the abundance
of funds, our research revealed that there is a
paucity of serious, published research into the
ethical, legal, and social implications of NT.
As the science leaps ahead, the ethics lags
behind. There is danger of derailing NT if the
study of ethical, legal, and social
implications does not catch up with the speed
of scientific development.

In August 2002, at the World Summit on
Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, an
organization called ETC held several workshops
calling for a moratorium on the deployment of
nanomaterials [1]. Meanwhile, over the past few
years expenditure on research and development
in nanotechnology (NT) has increased
dramatically [2]. These two trends seem to be
on a collision course towards a showdown of the
type that we saw with GM crops (indeed, ETC,
previously known asRAFI, coined the phrase
‘terminator seed’). As the science of NT leaps
ahead, the ethics lags behind. Activist groups
have appropriately identified this gap, and
begun to exploit it. We believe that there is
danger of derailing NT if serious study of NT’s
ethical, environmental, economic, legal, and
social implications (we call this NE3LS
research) does not reach the speed of progress
in the science.

As the science leaps ahead . . .

NT is a rapidly expanding field, focused on the
creation of functional materials, devices, and
systems through the control of matter on the
nanometre scale, and the exploitation of novel
phenomena and properties at that length scale
[3]. Several observations indicate that all of
society, not just scientists, needs to take NT
seriously. First, there have been major
scientific and technological advances in
microscopy, material science, molecular-level
manipulation, and scientific understanding at
the borderline between classical and quantum
physics. A biomolecular motor, made of
inorganic nickel propellers and powered by an
ATPase enzyme, was created over two years ago
[4]. In a major step toward downsizing
electronic components, single-molecule
transistors have been created [5]. Nanoparticle
research has generated products including a
nanoparticle carrier able to cross the
blood–brain barrier to deliver a
chemotherapeutic for the treatment of brain
tumours [6] and gold nanoparticle probes that
detect DNA from biological warfare agents such as
anthrax [7].

Second, evaluation of the field by prominent
scientists leaves little doubt that NT is going
to lead to a major revolution that is going to
have a significant impact on society. Dr
Richard Smalley, Nobel laureate in chemistry,
believes that ‘the impact of NT on health,
wealth, and the standard of living for people
will be at least the equivalent of the combined
influences of microelectronics, medical
imaging, computer-aided engineering, and
man-made polymers in this century’ [8].

Third, major industrial countries are
incorporating NT in their innovation systems:
they see this as an engine for wealth creation
in the near future. As a result they have begun
to invest heavily in research and development
(table 1).

Fourth, there are applications that are about
to be introduced into the market. Nanomix, for
example, intends to begin selling by the end of
2002 nanotube-based sensors for detecting
gasoline vapours that will help protect
refineries, chemical plants, and pipeline
stations from leaks—these will be 10 times less
expensive than current sensors, and can operate
for a year on a watch battery [9].

. . . the ethics lags behind

What is worrying, though, is that the serious study of NE3LS
research lags far behind the science. Despite availability
of research funds, NE3LS research has not yet been taken
seriously and pursued on a large enough scale.

Some commentators on NT have examined the
implications of NT but have often focused on distant,
controversial applications. For example, Bill Joy wrote an
influential and widely discussed paper inWiredmagazine [10],
about ‘gray goo’. Steven Block, Stanford biophysicist,
suggests that much of this hype is an illogical extrapolation
of current research. ‘Nobody has a clue how to build a
nanoassembler, much less get one to reproduce’ [11].

Others have tended to hype the potential applications of
NT.GaryStix,who edited a special issue of ScientificAmerican
on NT [12], has observed that ‘there has emerged a cult now
of futurists who foresee NT as a pathway to a technological
utopia: unparalleled prosperity, pollution-free industry, even
something resembling eternal life’ [13].

The first guidelines on molecular NT [14] have been
produced by the Foresight Institute, led by K Eric Drexler, an
early thinker on NT and the person largely responsible for first
introducing NT to the public in his book Engines of Creation.
While the guidelines focus on the prevention of uncontrolled
self-replication, they also touch on broader issues of global
wealth distribution, environmental protection, and regulation
to prevent the misuse of NT. Authors of the guidelines suggest
that further research into the implications and regulation of NT
by the global community of nations and NGOs is required.

There have been two important conferences recently
convened to discuss ethical, legal, and social implications of
NT [15, 16]. At both of these conferences the discourse,
as can be expected at this stage, has been at the level
of generalizations and motherhood statements. There are
calls to study the ethical implications, pointing out that
NT is a powerful and revolutionary development that is
likely to have a significant impact on society; comparisons
to past technological revolutions and the impact that those
have had on society; important taxonomic distinctions—for
example, between nanomaterials (nanates) and nanomachines
(nanites) [17]; eulogies to unforeseen consequences; calls for
scientists to help the public understand ethical issues; and
exploration of different methods of public engagement [18].

While the number of publications on NT per se has
increased dramatically in recent years, there is very little
concomitant increase in publications on the subject of ethical
and social implications to be found in the science, technology,
and social science literature. A survey of several databases
(figure 1) from 1985 to 2001 reveals a paucity of citations on
the ethics or social implications of NT.

While there are significant research funds available, at
least in the US, these funds are not being used. In 2001, the US
National Nanotechnology Initiative allocated $16–28 million
to societal implications, but spent less than half that amount.
The NSF, responsible for spending $8 million, did not fund a
single social science project focused on societal implications
of NT. One of the main reasons for the lack of awards was
the lack of meritorious research grant proposals [19]. The
European Community [20], Canada [21], and Australia [22]
have all recognized the importance of ethical discussion but so
far have done little to foster it.

The lack of dialogue between research institutes, granting
bodies, and the public on the implications and directions of
NT may have devastating consequences, including public fear
and rejection of NT without adequate study of its ethical and
social implications.

Why worry?

Is there anything special about NT that requires a specific
discussion now, and perhaps specific regulatory mechanisms
in the future? The ethical issues fall into the areas of equity,
privacy, security, environment, and metaphysical questions
concerning human–machine interactions.

Equity. Who will benefit from advances in NT? Today we
talk of the digital divide as something that is harmful and that
we should attempt to correct. We have also talked about the
emerging ‘genomics divide’ in a similar fashion [23]. This
is because we have come to understand that technology and
development are intricately linked [24], and that what at first
appears to be very ‘high-tech’ and costly and therefore perhaps
irrelevant for developing countries, in the endmight come to be
of most value for those same developing countries [25]. Thus
NT, were it to develop in the way it ought, might ultimately be
of most value for the poor and sick in the developing world.
At the Johannesburg summit, the main issues for developing
countries were poverty reduction, energy, water, health, and
biodiversity. NT has the potential to make a positive impact
on all of these if its risks either do not materialize or are
appropriately managed. The poor could benefit from NT, for
example, through safer drug delivery, lower needs for energy,
cleaner energy production, and environmental remediation.
It is also possible that health could be improved by better
prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. One of the biggest
health problems in developing countries is trauma, especially
from road traffic accidents, and absence of rehabilitation
facilities [26]: better nanomaterials for making safer tyres,
or NT-based scaffolds to grow bone [27] may be extremely
important, especially if the promise of mass production at very
low cost materializes. Furthermore, if developing countries
were to see the potential of NT and became early players in the
field (see China’s increased expenditure on NT R&D; table 1),
NT might have an impact on their economic development and
obviate the need quite soon for these countries to become
net importers of NT. This is similar to what is happening in
biotechnology, a field in which countries such as India, China,
Brazil, and Cuba have already begun to invest in [28].
Privacy and security. NT is capable of dramatically
improving surveillance devices, and producing new weapons.
How would individual privacy be protected if near-invisible
microphones, cameras, and tracking devices become widely
available? Will these new technologies increase security or
add to the arsenal of bio- and techno- or even nano-terrorism?
Who will regulate the direction of research in defensive
and offensive military NT? How much transparency will be
necessary in government and private NT initiatives to avoid
misuses? There are also very interesting legal questions [29]
involving monitoring, ownership, and control of invisible
objects [17].

The next asbestos?

Environmental issues. NT has already
generated novel types of matter such as fullerenes and carbon
nanotubes. Where do these and other nanomaterials go when
they enter the environment and what are their effects? This
year, the US environmental protection agency (EPA) has
added the funding of research projects that explore potential
environmental dangers of NT to its list of priorities. ‘There are
always possibilities for environmental or health harms’, said
Barbara Karn, EPA official [30].

Human or machine? Some avenues of research in NT include
the incorporation of artificial materials or machines into human
systems, as is beginning to happen with implanted computer
chips [31]. The modification of living systems is met with
great scepticism by much of society. How acceptable will
technologies such as implantable cells and sensors be for the
general population? What are its implications and what are
our limits?

Closing the gap between science and ethics. NT can learn
from earlier efforts to address social implications of genomics
and biotechnology. Here are some of these lessons:

• Appropriate funding of NE3LS research. In the Human
Genome Project, James Watson recommended that 3–5%
of the budget be devoted for study of ethical, legal, and
social implications. This massive infusion of research
funds energized the ethics community. The US seems
headed down this path for NT, although it has not yet
made a percentage commitment. Other countries do not
seem to have allocated portions of their NT budgets for
ethical and social implications.

• Large-scale interdisciplinary research platforms. We
should try to avoid from the beginning the navelgazing
type of ethical, legal, and social implications
studies that were done in the early days of the Human
Genome Project and which have been heavily criticized
in recent evaluations [32, 33]. An example of a largescale
interdisciplinary research platform is shown in
figure 2 [23].

• Capacity strengthening. The lack of meritorious
proposals in response to funding announcements mirrors
the early experience with the ELSI programme of the
Human Genome Project. The appropriate response is
to focus on strengthening capacity in NE3LS research at
all levels from undergraduate summer students, through
graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, junior faculty,
and senior investigators. This can be done through
career awards, training grants, and also emphasizing the
development of highly qualified personnel in large-scale

An example of a large-scale interdisciplinary method: the
Canadian Program on Genomics and Global Health (CPGGH). The
large-scale interdisciplinary platform has been designed specifically
to address the deficiencies of current approaches to the study of the
ethical, environmental, legal, and social implications of scientific
and technological advances [23].
Capacity strengthening should
also include different sectors and developing countries.

Intersectoral approach. One of the problems with
previous ELSI work is that it is conducted in isolation
from major players. Those studying ethical and social
implications of NT should have regular opportunities
to interact with, and represent, scientists, NGOs/activist
groups/pressure groups, government, and industry.

• Involvement of developing countries. The great tragedy
of ELSI research on genomics is how it ignored, until
recently, the role of genomics and biotechnology in
developing countries. Voices on NT from developing
countries must be included now. This could be done
through the formation of a global geomics initiative
similar to the one proposed for genomics [34, 35] or
other forms of global issues networking [36]. We should
develop, using Internet-based tools for collaborative
networking, a global opinion-leaders network for ethical
and social implications of NT.

• Public engagement. As the UK White Paper on
Science [37] noted, the most pressing issue in science is
public involvement. Journalists need to be involved in the
early stages of NT since they have an important influence
on public perceptions. Innovative mechanisms such as
plays, used for example by theWellcome Trust and others
to engage the public in genomics, need to be fostered.
Science museums should consider how they might include
exhibits on the ethical and social implications of NT.
Modules examining ELSI implications of NT should be
developed for secondary-school students, so citizens can
be engaged early in balanced discussion of issues. All
these approaches [38, 39] are now beginning to be used in
genomics, and should be rapidly adapted to NT.

The call by ETC for a moratorium on deployment of
nanomaterials should be a wake-up call for NT. The only way
to avoid such a moratorium is to immediately close the gap
between the science and ethics of NT. The lessons of genomics
and biotechnology make this feasible. Either the ethics of NT
will catch up, or the science will slow down.

full article with diagrams and references:

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
photography & writings

The wind carves shapes into the beach sand

Search over 5000 pages on Nonduality: