I shall keep my comments short and to the point.
I fail to see the point of the report at all - and I was a participant. Who is the target audience and what point are you trying to get across?
If it was to make a list of possible applications in nanotechnology then a better job could be done without getting concensus by committee. Also there vast numbers of papers and books on the topic many produced by the DTI and the EU. I list a few:
European White Book on Materials Science - this deals in a comprehensive manner
with Nanomaterials - P166 – 176 Foresight - Opportunities for Industry
in the Application of nanotechnology Nanotechnology - The Huge Opportunity that
comes from thinking Small - DTI
On the safety and ethical side I would recommend:
Future Technology Todays Choices - Greenpeace
The Social and Economical Challenges of Nanotechnology - ESRC
This report does not add to the literature to any great extent.
If the purpose of the report was to examine the safety and ethical concerns of nanotechnology then it failed to do so. A discussion on the effects of nanoparticles was trite and most of the areas discussed are already parts of the Health and Safety at Work Act and can be addressed as such.
If the purpose of the report was to address the concerns of Prince Charles and grey goo and self replicating nanobots, then again it has not done so. Whether you believe that there is any credibility in his concerns or not, I still believe that this has to be met head on and dealt with. The report does not do this. The report needs a section which specifically deals with these concerns and handles them in a very rational and scientific way. It should be able to dispose of most of the concerns straight away. However, looking further into the future I think that you will find the case much harder to argue. That is of smaller and smaller entities that have onboard intelligence, albeit AI, that are able to communicate with each other. The self replication also then poses a problem.
Without tackling this head on you will not allay the fears of the public at large nor the press.
Professor Graham J Davies
University of Birmingham