Future Human

Future Human Visionaries #6 — Mary Ryan on the impact of nanotechnology

Future Human Visionaries #6 — Mary Ryan on the impact of nanotechnology

Welcome to Visionaries, a podcast dedicated to futurological thinkers brought to you by Future Human and the V&A. We seek out people who are reimagining innovation in their field, and ask them to apply their intelligence to emerging trends. Mary Ryan is professor of materials science and nanotechnology at Imperial College London. Her work focuses the use of nanotechnology within electrochemistry, exploring how tiny ‘nanomaterials' can strengthen metals. Could the visualisation and assembly of materials on an atomic scale disrupt our economic landscape? Professor Ryan analyses the potential of ‘atomically precise manufacturing’ and it’s capacity to build programmable, self-replicating machines. How might global economics shift in a world where complex, microscopic robots cost less to produce than a single printed character in a daily newspaper? She argues that the commercial potential of nanotechnology, which has led military, security and energy corporations to engage in a science funding arms race, is blinding scientists to the fears of the general public. How can scientists involve citizens in an informed debate about a technology that could greatly enhance human civilisation yet also damage it forcefully? Presented by Ben Beaumont-Thomas.

Duration: 14 min

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