Editorial

In search of advice

    We introduce an advisory panel to develop content on the relationship between technology and society.

    Modern society faces a range of challenges to maintain or improve its relationship with the environment and to reduce inequalities within itself. Science and technology have an essential role to play in addressing these challenges. We need only think, for example, about the development of sustainable and renewable energy sources, the exploration of practical solutions to contain global warming, the search for cures for widespread diseases, or the advances in information and communication technology to improve education in developing countries.

    Over the last few years, at Nature Nanotechnology we have paid increasing attention to the ways in which nanomaterials can contribute to addressing societal needs and we are committed to keep doing so in the future. We are also conscious, however, that scientific and technological progress is only part of the solution, albeit an essential one. Especially for an emerging technology, facilitating its positive impact on society requires answering a range of questions. For example, how does the public perceive that technology? Have the material benefits and risks been considered fully? Will the deployment of the technology be environmentally and economically sustainable? Could the technology create more harm than benefits to society, for example in terms of inequalities? Even more fundamentally, is the research itself conducted in a responsible and sustainable way?

    We believe that the scientific community should be aware of these issues and take part in the discussion around them. In Nature Nanotechnology we have covered societal aspects of nanotechnology in the past, primarily through the regular contributions of our Thesis writers or through occasional commentaries. We now feel that our commitment to the role of nanotechnology in society should be reflected in more frequent and more structured coverage. With this in mind, from January 2018 our editorial team will be able to count on the support of an external advisory panel to shape and develop our coverage, on such issues as public perception, ethics and philosophy, policy, law and regulations, and sustainability.

    The role of the advisory panel will be exclusively to assist our editorial team in commissioning Comments, Perspectives or Reviews. We will also welcome advice on reports in the social-sciences literature that deserve the attention of our audience of researchers in nanoscience and nanotechnology, and that could be featured in Research Highlights, News and Views or Editorials. The panel will, however, will not make decisions on any of the content published in the journal — that remains the remit of the editorial team.

    The advisory panel will be in place for an initial period of two years. We will then evaluate the possibility to renew it. At this stage we would like to express our gratitude to the panel members, who have given their time and enthusiastically supported our vision.