Science and Technology Innovation Program
Volunteer and technical communities organize to create and build tools that collect, search and organize data coming from crisis areas. These crowdsourcing groups have effectively responded to a variety of disasters, including the Haitian and Chilean earthquakes, the Japanese tsunami and the gulf oil spill.
From August 20 to 25, 2008, Peter D. Hart Research Associates conducted a nationwide survey among 1,003 adults about awareness of and attitudes toward both nanotechnology and synthetic biology. Nearly nine in 10 Americans say they have heard just a little or nothing at all about synthetic biology, according to this 2008 report summarizing the survey findings.
A 2010 analysis by the Synthetic Biology Project found that the U.S. government spent around $430 million on research related to synthetic biology since 2005, with the Department of Energy funding a majority of the research. By comparison, the analysis indicated that the European Union and three individual European countries – the Netherlands, United Kingdom, and Germany – had spent approximately $160 million during that same period. Approximately 4 percent of the U.S. funding and 2 percent of the European funding was being spent to explore ethical, legal, and social implications of synthetic biology, but no projects focused on risk assessment.
Leaders in disaster response are finding it necessary to adapt to a new reality. Although community actions have always been the core of the recovery process, collective action from the grassroots has changed response operations in ways that few would have predicted. Using new tools that interconnect over expanding mobile networks, citizens can exchange information via maps and social media, then mobilize thousands of people to collect, analyze, and act on that information. Sometimes, community-sourced intelligence may be fresher and more accurate than the information given to the responders who provide aid. This report explores approaches to the questions that commonly emerge when building an interface between the grassroots and government agencies, with a particular focus on the accompanying legal, policy, and technology challenges.
In partnership with the Pew CharitableTrusts, the Wilson Center will work with industry, academia, NGOs, and others to explore the future of nanotechnologies and their implications for the environment and human health.
The creators of “Budget Hero,” the popular serious game which helps people of all ages understand the federal budget and the trade-offs involved in the budgetary process, have launched an Election Edition to illuminate the budget impact of policies championed by President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney as well as those related to the impending “fiscal cliff.”
From laptop computers to sunscreens to stain-resistant clothing, nanotechnology is gaining ground in the consumer products marketplace. The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies launches the only publicly available, online, and searchable inventory of nanotechnology-based consumer products.
"Nanoscale science and engineering promise to be as important as the steam engine, the transistor, and the Internet, and have the potential to revolutionize all other technologies" according to Neal Lane, former science advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton. "But that outcome is not guaranteed."
Press coverage of synthetic biology in the United States and Europe increased significantly between 2008 and 2011. This report builds on the project’s earlier study of press coverage in the United States and Europe during the 2003-2008 period. The new report finds an increase in the sheer number of articles about synthetic biology. It further finds that this coverage is driven by high-profile events and that there are growing similarities in how the technology is covered in the United States and Europe. This report also highlights key recommendations from recent reports focused on the press and public engagement.