Nanotechnology, the unknown technique of the future

Nanotechnology has not yet reached public consciousness in the way that other new technologies have, says DIW Berlin (German Institute for Economic Research) in its weekly bulletin. Although one person in two has heard of the concept, only one in five can think of a concrete example. The report is based on a specific survey forming part of a long-term research project by the Socio-economic Panel (SOEP). In general, about a third of the population expressed an interest in science and technology. Most respondents have an ambivalent attitude to the evaluation of the threats and opportunities of technological progress.

Germans are no different from the average European in this respect, and are not particularly hostile to technology. This is also the case for the fundamental question of whether developing technologies should continue to be encouraged even if there are as yet unevaluated risks attached.    50% of men say they are interested by science and technology, while only 16% of women are. Interest increases according to educational level, but age does not play a significant role. The nanotechnology survey reveals considerable lack of knowledge: only half had heard of nanotechnology, and most were unable to explain what it is. When explanations were given, they were in very general terms. The evaluation of the opportunities and threats presented by nanotechnology is very similar to that of science and technology in general. 

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