Nanotechnology in a Globalized World: Strategic Assessments of an Emerging Technology
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Nanotechnologies are enabling, dual-use technologies with the potential to alter the modern world significantly, from fields as wide-ranging as warfare to industrial design to medicine to social and human engineering. Seizing the technological lead in nanotech is often viewed as an imperative for both 21st century defense and global competitiveness. Only revolutionary technologies are believed to allow a country to take advantage of its relative backwardness—in the sense of its lack of commitment to existing, incremental technologies—and leap ahead of existing technological leaders in developing and deploying a revolutionary new technology. New technologies, however, are only likely truly to revolutionize an economy and society if there is a broader national base that allows a new technology to spread and transform from its initial niche application, whether civilian or military, and if society is willing to adopt the technology in question. Globally, there is significant belief in the revolutionary potential of nanotechnology, not only to transform warfare, economy and society, but also the international geopolitical hierarchy. Between 2001 and 2014, over sixty countries followed the United States and established nanotechnology initiatives. These countries range from advanced industrial countries in Europe to Japan to the emerging markets of Russia, China, Brazil, and India to developing countries such as Nepal and Pakistan.
PASCC Report Number 2014-006
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