The Newberry Library Seminar on Technology, Politics, and Culture
Friday, February 16, 2006, 3:30–5:00 p.m.
Like A Standing Army: The National Science Foundation and Its Uncertain Relationships with American National Security from the Cold War to Nanotechnology
Jason Gallo, University of Wisconsin–Madison
This paper examines the role of the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) and argues that NSF involvement in the promotion of nanotechnology represents a broad and long-term federal commitment to achieving a symbolic, as well as technological, victory in the global race to develop this emerging technology. Both the genesis of the NSF in the aftermath of the Second World War and the historical shifts in NSF policy from the Foundation's inception in 1950 through the Internet boom of the 1990s are critical to understanding the shape and scope of current nanotechnology policy. The promotion of nanotechnology is a strategic endeavor to achieve the “next industrial revolution” and simultaneously address the uncertainty of economic globalization and asymmetrical threats to contemporary US interests. The NNI is a critical component of a US S&T policy designed to reify a competitive advantage in an increasingly globalized world no longer defined by the bipolarity of the Cold War. The NSF participates in this strategy by supporting basic nanotechnology research as well as through the funding of university-based research centers, therefore gestating a highly skilled S&E workforce crafted to sustain the nanotechnology “revolution.” This paper argues that information technology is the critical component of NBIC (nano-bio-info-cogno) convergence for three distinct reasons: it provides cybernetic control over the process of convergence, it builds upon the NSF's traditional support for information management and technologies, and it symbolically links NBIC convergence with the economic gains and social changes associated with the “information age.”
All papers are pre-circulated electronically to those who plan to attend the seminar in person. For a copy of the paper, e-mail Jenny Fink at email@example.com, or call 312-255-3524. Please do not request the paper unless you plan to attend the seminar.
Co-sponsored by the University of Illinois at Chicago, Roosevelt University, the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Northwestern University's School of Communications
The Newberry Library
Dr. William M. Scholl Center for
Family and Community History
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Chicago, Illinois 60610
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