Due primarily to technological advances over the last decade, quantum research has become a key priority area for science and technology policy all over the world. With this manifesto, we wish to prevent quantum technology from running into fiascos of implementation at the interface of science and society. To this end, we identify key stumbling blocks and propose recommendations.
Nanotechnology thrives in the realm of the virtual. Throughout its history, the field has been shaped by futuristic visions of technological revolution, hyperbolic promises of scientific convergence at the molecular scale, and science fiction stories of the world rebuilt atom by atom. Even today, amid the welter of innovative nanomaterials that increasingly appear in everyday consumer products—the nanoparticles enhancing our sunscreens, the carbon nanotubes strengthening our tennis rackets, the antimicrobial nano-silver lining our socks, the nanofilms protecting our wrinkle-free trousers—the public (...) rhetoric of nanotechnology constantly reminds us that such precision-engineered materials merely represent a trace or a premonition of the amazing future still to come... (shrink)
In 1959, Richard Feynman suggested that the most compelling reason to pursue nanoscale research might be ‘just for fun.’ This article traces a history of playful images and ludic practices in nanotechnology. Two case studies—nanocars and nanosoccer—exemplify the ways in which scientific research mobilizes speculative futures, less through engineering design or stepwise protocol than through the recreational dynamics of play. Although such molecular toys might appear frivolous, they index the increasingly widespread conditions of play labor, or ‘playbor’, shaping today’s technoculture. (...) Exploring the processes of transmutation and transvaluation by which technological imaginaries are rendered operative, this article tells a story of how the nanoworld became an everyday reality by becoming a game. (shrink)