Nanoscale science and technology, while still in its infancy, describes a rapidly growing sphere of enquiry, with many and varied implications for the disability field. To establish a 'benchmark' of the current state of knowledge and conceptual understanding, the Editors of IJDCR decided a special issue should be devoted to the topic. Background information and potential topics are presented below.
We invite potential contributors, regardless of fields of study (discipline), to submit 250-word Abstracts that articulate the conceptual arguments and knowledge base to be covered in a critical analysis on some aspect of the impact of nanoscale science and technology on disability, community and/or rehabilitation.
Please submit abstracts to the Guest Editor via e-mail by 15 November, 2008.
From selected abstracts, we will request full articles of 3000-5000 words (excluding figures and tables) of original research and scholarship on a range of topics. Note that an invitation to submit an article does not guarantee its publication. Every submitted article will be subject to blind peer review and recommendations arising.
Nanotechnology in all its meanings allows for, among other things, the manipulation of materials on an atomic or molecular scale and enables a new paradigm of science and technology that sees different technologies converging at the nanoscale namely:
a. nanoscience and nanotechnology,
b. biotechnology and biomedicine, including genetic engineering,
c. information technology, including advanced computing and communications,
d. cognitive science (neuro-engineering),
e. synthetic biology; hence, the designation "NBICS" (nano-bio-info-cogno-synbio).
Many lists of anticipated nanoproducts exist (Institute of Nanotechnology 2005;Kostoff et al. 2006). Applications for NBICS products are envisioned in areas such as the environment, energy, water, weapons and other military applications, globalization, agriculture, and health (e.g., more efficient diagnostics and genetic testing, cognitive enhancement; life extension and enhancing human performance in general) (M.Roco 2003). Many believe that advances in NBICS hold the key for extreme life extension to the level of immortality and the achievement of morphological (Anders Sandberg 2001) and genomic freedom(Wolbring 2003). NBICS-medicine is envisioned by some to have the answer to global problems of disease and ill medical and social health. Others argue for the pursuit of 'morphological freedom' (Anders Sandberg 2001)--allowing the human body to move beyond typical functioning of the species. Disabled people are often highlighted as the beneficiaries of NBICS-medicine products. NBICS applications and the selling of NBICS health products focuses mostly on offering disabled people medical solutions (prevention or cure/normative adaptation) and might move towards transhumanist solutions (augmentation, enhancement of the human body) but rarely offers social solutions (adaptation of the environment, acceptance, societal cures of equal rights and respect). Many NBICS applications/products for disabled people are envisioned and are under development(Wolbring 2005).
We chose this topic for an issue of IJDCR because of how the discourses around these new and emerging nanoscale science and technologies are emerging and their potential impact on people with disabilities, the communities linked to them and/or practitioners as well as others. Consumers and researchers linked to the disability discourse are involved will shape the positive or negative consequences for everyone involved.
Nanotechnology and NBICS have an impact on disabled people in at least four main ways.
Impact of NBICS on disabled people (Wolbring 2006)
NBICS may develop tools to adapt the environment in which disabled people live and to give disabled people tools that would allow them to deal with environmental challenges. This side of S&T would make the life of disabled people more liveable without changing the identity and biological reality of the disabled person
NBICS may develop tools that would diagnose the part of disabled people's biological reality seen by others as deficient, defect, impaired and 'disabled' thus allowing for preventative measures
NBICS may develop tools that would eliminate that portion of disabled people's biological reality seen by others as deficient, defect, impaired and 'disabled'.
NBICS may be a target for - and an influence upon - the discourses, concepts, trends and areas of action that impact disabled persons.
- The discourse around the term human security
- The religious discourse
- The politics of biodiversity
- The politics of inequity
- The politics of the ethics discourse.
- The politics of law:
- The politics of raising the acceptance level for a given technology
- The politics of setting goals and priorities
- The politics of language
- The politics of self perception and identity (Body politics)
- The politics of red herrings
- The politics of interpreting International treaties
- The politics of governance
- The Politics of evaluation, measuring, analysis, and outcome tools
- Self identity security
- Ability security
- Cultural identity/diversity
- Morphological freedom and morphological judgement(Anders Sandberg 2001)
- Freedom of choice and tyranny of choice
- Duty to fix oneself
- Duty to know
- Parental responsibility
- Societal responsibility
- Change in the concepts of health, disease and 'disability'/'impairment'
- The appearance of enhancement medicine and the acceptance of beyond species-typical functioning
- Moving from curative to enhancement medicine; decrease in curative medicine and the appearance of the transhumanist/enhancement burden of disease
- Moving from human rights to sentient rights
- Moving from morphological freedom to morphological judgement
- The appearance of the techno poor disabled and impaired
- Moving from freedom of choice to tyranny of choice judgement
Areas of Action:
- Nanotechnology/NBIC for development
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and the UN Millennium Development Goals
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and global medical and social health
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and accessibility
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and law
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and water and sanitation
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and disaster management
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and weapons/war
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and ethics/philosophy
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and social science/anthropology
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and community
- Nanotechnology/NBIC and networking
All of the above discourses, concepts, trends and areas of actions impact on disabled people and others.
Potential contributors to this Special Issue might consider areas from the above table or one of the following topics:
1. What are the potential positive and negative impacts of envisioned nanoscale science and technology products and research and development on:
- disabled people,
- the community around them
- practitioners, consumers and researchers linked to the disability discourse
- community rehabilitation and the rehabilitation field in general
- inclusive education and the education of disabled people in general
- employability of disabled people
- citizenship of disabled people
- body image of disabled people
- medical and social health policies and their impact on disabled people
- health care for disabled people
- the elderly
- disabled people in low income countries
- laws related to disabled people such as the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities
- the concept of personhood
- concept of health and health care
- the measure of disability adjusted life years and other measurements used to guide health care dollar allocation
- quality of life assessment
2. What are the potential positive and negative impacts of the new social philosophy of transhumanism that is seen as being enabled by nanoscale science and technology products and research and development?
3. What impacts of potential nanoscale science and technology products and research and development onto disabled people will impact other marginalized groups?
For more information about the International Journal of Disability, Community & Rehabilitation (IJDCR) please go to http://www.ijdcr.ca.
Anders Sandberg. Morphological Freedom -- Why We not just Want it, but Need it. 2001.
Institute of Nanotechnology (2005). Research Applications And Markets In Nanotechnology In Europe 2005
Kostoff, Ronald et al. "The seminal literature of nanotechnology research." Journal of Nanoparticle Research (2006): 1-21.
M.Roco, W. Bainbridge eds. Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance: Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology and Cognitive Science. 2003. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht Hardbound.
Wolbring, G. "SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND THE TRIPLE D (DISEASE, DISABILITY, DEFECT)." Ed. William Sims Bainbridge Mihail C.Roco National. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 2003. 232-43
Wolbring, G (2005). HTA Initiative #23 The triangle of enhancement medicine, disabled people, and the concept of health: a new challenge for HTA, health research, and health policy Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research, Health Technology Assessment Unit, Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Wolbring, G (2006). Scoping paper on Nanotechnology and disabled people. Center for Nanotechnology in Society Arizona State University [On-line].