Will nanotechnology become an object of harsh controversy like genetically modified organisms? Or will it take the path of the less controversial stem cell therapy? What lessons can be learned from past innovations, in order to avoid repeating old mistakes in future with nanoscience?
Recent history is full of new technologies whose risks were underestimated: from asbestos to chlorofluorocarbons, from non-ionising radiation to high frequency trading. But there are also examples of excessive precaution: the overreaction to swine flu or the missed opportunity of irradiated food, for example.