Foresight Institute

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Template:About

Template:Transhumanism The Foresight Institute is a Palo Alto, California-based nonprofit organization for promoting experimental and speculative technologies.[1] They sponsor conferences on molecular nanotechnology, which are considered the primary conference series in the field,[2] and are among the most prominent independent foundations in the nano area.[3]

History

The Institute was founded in 1986 by Christine Peterson, who still serves on the Board of Directors; K. Eric Drexler as president; and space entrepreneur James C. Bennett. Many of its initial members came from the L5 Society; it was first intended as a smaller, more focused group than L5, but grew rapidly and reached a few thousand members shortly afterwards.[4] In its early days, it was largely responsible for promoting the concept of nanotechnology, before the idea became widespread among researchers. Despite its later fame, nanotech received little investment from government and industry in the early 1990s, a gap Foresight tried to fill through its private fundraising efforts.[5] The Feynman Prizes were started in 1993, with two prizes being awarded for theory and experimentation every year since 1997.[6]

In 1991, two sister organizations were formed: the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM) and the Center for Constitutional Issues in Technology (CCIT), with funding from tech entrepreneur Mitch Kapor.[4] CCIT was founded to study policy issues, but communications professor David M. Berube argues that it has not accomplished much in this area.[5]

The Institute was founded "to guide emerging technologies to improve the human condition" but focused "its efforts upon nanotechnology, the coming ability to build materials and products with atomic precision, and upon systems that will enhance knowledge exchange and critical discussion".[7] In May 2005, the Foresight Institute changed its name to "Foresight Nanotech Institute"[3] and narrowed its mission to "ensure beneficial implementation of nanotechnology. Foresight is accomplishing this by providing balanced, accurate and timely information to help society understand and utilize nanotechnology through public policy activities, publications, guidelines, networking events, tutorials, conferences, roadmaps and prizes."[8]

In June 2009, the institute reverted to its original name, and broadened its mission to "studying transformative technologies".[9]

Mission

The mission of Foresight is to promote the development of nanotechnologies, and to reduce the potential for misuse and accidents associated with them.[10] Foresight promotes the use of nanotechnology to provide clean energy, supply water, improve health and longevity, preserve the environment, make information technology available, and enable space settlement.[11] According to David M. Berube, its most notable accomplishment may be the set of guidelines it published for nanotechnological development.[5]

Some scientists have criticized Foresight, and its founder Eric Drexler, for technological utopianism and unrealistic expectations.[12] Stanford researcher Steven Block has called Foresight a "cult of futurists", and said that visions which might resemble science fiction would hold back research progress. Chemist and Nobel laureate Richard Smalley was originally a supporter of Foresight during the early 1990s, before changing his mind and becoming a prominent critic of Foresight and Drexler.[3]

Prizes

The Foresight Institute has several running prizes, including the annual Feynman Prizes, and the $250,000 Feynman Grand Prize for demonstrating two molecular machines capable of nanoscale positional accuracy and computation.[13] Historically, the prizes have explored four main areas: the behavior of individual molecules, the synthesis of new materials (such as carbon nanotubes), nanobiology and DNA technology, and the design of machines for molecular manufacturing. The prizes have been notable for influencing the direction of nanotechnology research as a field.[6] Author Colin Milburn refers to the prize as an example of "fetishizing" their namesake Richard Feynman, due to his prestige as a scientist and his fame among the broader public.[3]

See also

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References

  • Smith, Richard Hewlett. "A Policy Framework for Developing a National Nanotechnology Program", Master of Science thesis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1998, available at Digital Library and Archives
  1. Shatner, William (2012). I'm Working On That: A Trek From Science Fiction To Science Fact. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781471108273. 
  2. Oliver, Richard W. (2003). The biotech age: the business of biotech and how to profit from it (2nd ed., rev. ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0071414894. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Milburn, Colin (2008). Nanovision: Engineering the future. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. ISBN 0822391481. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 McCray, W. Patrick (2012). The visioneers: how a group of elite scientists pursued space colonies, nanotechnologies, and a limitless future. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691139830. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Berube, David M.. Nano-Hype: The Truth Behind the Nanotechnology Buzz. Prometheus Books. ISBN 9781615922369. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Marcovich, Anne; Shinn, Terry (2014). Toward a New Dimension: Exploring the Nanoscale. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198714610. 
  7. "Foresight Institute - Web Archive snapshot as of 2003-Feb-02". Archived from the original on February 2, 2003. https://web.archive.org/web/20030202040207/http://www.foresight.org/index.html. 
  8. "Foresight Institute - Web Archive snapshot as of 2005-May-26". Archived from the original on May 26, 2005. https://web.archive.org/web/20050526032658/http://foresight.org/. 
  9. "Foresight Institute - Web Archive snapshot as of 2009-Jun-06". Archived from the original on June 26, 2009. https://web.archive.org/web/20090626131628/http://www.foresight.org/. 
  10. About the Foresight Institute, Foresight Institute, (Retrieved Dec. 24, 2014).
  11. How Close Are We to Real Nanotechnology?, Humanity+, (July 1, 2009).
  12. Byrne (December 8, 1999). "Sidebar: Looking at Foresight". SF Weekly. https://www.sfweekly.com/news/sidebar-looking-at-foresight/. Retrieved 14 December 2016. 
  13. "Foresight Institute Prize Descriptions and Applications". Foresight Nanotech Institute. http://www.foresight.org/prize/. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 

External links

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