Nanotechnology and Society
No clear implementation methods exist for US legislation on integrating societal considerations into nanotechnology research and development. An empirical study was thus undertaken to investigate the possibility and utility of "sociotechnical integration" during nanoscale engineering research in an academic setting. For twelve weeks, an "embedded humanist" interacted with three graduate engineering researchers to identify and assess opportunities for influencing research decisions in accordance with societal concerns. The study focused not on the nature of societal concerns, but on the nature of engineering decisions, and on the potential capacity of researchers to perform integration by "modulating" their decisions. Engineering research decisions were found to be subject to societal influences, and researchers were found to become aware of the possibility of modulating their decisions accordingly. The interactions were not found to hamper research and were found to add value to research. No attempt was made to alter research decisions, only to stimulate awareness of the possibility of doing so. Still, one researcher did alter several decisions as a result of the study. Midstream modulation represents a promising approach for implementing US nanotechnology policy.

Read about this experiment and lessons learned:
Midstream Modulation of Nanotechnology Research in an Academic Laboratory
Erik Fisher and Roop L. Mahajan

Also see:
Contradictory intent? US federal legislation on integrating societal concerns into nanotechnology research and development
Erik Fisher and Roop L. Mahajan

Midstream Modulation of Technology: Governance from Within
Erik Fisher, Roop L. Mahajan, and Carl Mitcham

Integrating Societal Concerns into Nanotechnology Research (poster)
Erik Fisher

Nanotechnology: the Visible and the Invisible
Robert Frodeman