The convergence among nanotechnology, biotechnology, neuroscience and computer science will have a revolutionary impact not only on our world, but our very selves. Such technologies, in fact, "have started to merge with our minds, our memories, our metabolism, our personalities, our progeny and perhaps even our souls". Nanotechnology allows us to manipulate matter "one atom at a time", to perform acts akin to seizing a needle with a mile-wide crane. And yet it is possible. The language used to discuss such technologies' repercussion reminds us of "Star Trek": molecular electronics, quantum computers, superefficient solar cells, biosensors, enhanced men la Oscar Pistorius. Before long we will be able to use nano-drugs in nano-dosages, or have nano-robots injected into our bodies in order to repair or replace defective cells. The "fantastic voyage" depicted in an old film is on the verge of becoming a reality.
Federico Neresini teaches Science, Technology and Society at the University of Padua.