The People

The second key educational issue concerns the people who make the science and engineering advances that will form the bedrock of new technologies. If these individuals are not equitably drawn from the populace at large, then one can predict with certitude that social equity and displacement issues will gain momentum with every advance, and can, in fact, dissipate or forestall the anticipated benefits of any endeavor.

It is thus clearly in America's best interest to ensure equitable participation of all elements in the frontline decision-making circles, in particular, to include groups that are historically underrepresented in leading-edge science and engineering, during this era of anticipated, unbridled growth of NBIC technologies. The rich opportunities to make contributions will help members of underrepresented groups, especially, to reassert and revalidate their forgotten and sometimes ignored historical science and technological prowess. Success here would go a long way to avoiding an enormous challenge to a bright future. What we stand to gain is the inclusion of the psychology and intellectual talents of an important segment of our society in solutions of ongoing and future world-shaping events. Two important activities immediately come to mind that make the point. One represents an opportunity lost, the second, a challenge we dare not ignore.

The first was NASA's space-venturing time capsule to other worlds several decades ago. Among many good things associated with this undertaking was one I consider unfortunate, a single-race representation of the inhabitants of the Earth. Clearly, a different psychological view, one more inclusive, should have prevailed, and probably would have if minorities had had a say.

The second is the mapping of the human genome. The resultant data bank, I should think, will reflect the proclivities and prejudices of its creators, and its exploitation in the battle against genetic diseases. Clearly we should all have a hand in what it looks like and how it is to be used.

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