This essay explores some of the social, political, economic and technological issues that the world may have to face in the mid-21 st century. A central theme is the need to regulate molecular nanotechnology because of its immense abuse potential. Advanced nanotechnology can be used to build small self-replicating machines that can feed on organic matter - a bit like bacteria but much more versatile, and potentially more destructive than the H-bomb. The necessity to prevent irresponsible groups and individuals from getting access to nanotechnological manufacturing capability is a prime concern in 2050. The essay shows how this quest for containment shapes many aspect of society, most notably via the institution of a global surveillance network. A dialogue format is used for two reasons. First, in order to enable several conflicting views to be discussed. And second, to illustrate how public debates may be conducted at that time
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