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Self Assessment Scorecards for Safer Development of Nanotechnology

These guidelines, published by the US Foresight Institute, include self-assessment scorecards that are intended to gauge how well nanotechnology professionals, the industry itself, and government policymakers comply with safety measures.

In the preamble, the authors say that accepting responsibility for new nanotechnology capabilities is "not optional", and that dealing with the military, security and environmental issues proactively will be crucial to the field's successful development. Many of their safety and security concerns focus on the potential for self-replication in some emergent types of molecular nanotechnology (MNT).

The three scorecards cover areas of major risk. The industry card, for instance, includes an entry on working with carbon nanotubes, which demand specialised hygiene controls to avoid inhalation or absorption. The guidelines finish with a section chronicling the scorecards' history, which are intended to be a 'living document', subject to revision and modification. The authors welcome ideas for improving them and hope that eventually, the guidelines will form the basis for a legally enforceable framework within which MNT can develop safely.