Bush Signs Nanotech R&D Act

At 2:10 P.M. EST this afternoon, President Bush is scheduled to sign the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act into law.

The legislation was sponsored in the House by Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), and in the Senate by Senators Ron Wyden (R-OR) and George Allen (R-VA). The act puts the President's National Nanotechnology Initiative into law and authorizes $3.7 billion for research over the next four years.

The National Science Foundation estimates that nanotechnology applications may be worth more than $1 trillion in the global economy in the next ten years. The bill requires research into the social and ethical consequences of nanotechnology.

Science fiction authors interested in nanotechnology have already conducted their own thought-experiments on the social and ethical consequences of nanotechnology development. Read about them in books like The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. You might also want to read about what is probably the first reference to nanotechnology in science fiction, the embryonic robots from Philip K. Dick's 1967 novel Counter-Clock World.

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