What Can Education Do for NBIC

Universities epitomize the ideal of uniting the intellectual heritage of mankind, so they are a relatively hospitable environment for scientific and technological convergence. Other kinds of educational institutions can also play crucial roles in bringing the scientific and technical disciplines together. In the economy, certain markets become trading zones where a great diversity of products, services, and institutions converge. Scientific trading zones will have to be created, perhaps anchored in university-based research centers or in joint academic-industrial partnerships, that will allow students and scientists to develop the necessary communication skills for trading ideas across disciplines.

The educational system can provide a stimulus for drawing recruits into the NBIC community. Classrooms can become a proving ground for exploring new technologies designed to facilitate learning and communication. Similarly, the educational system can be a developmental laboratory for testing useful technological directions in NBIC.

Many new educational approaches will have to be tried in order to see which are most effective in achieving technological convergence. For example, universities may offer retraining for scientists who already have doctorates and may already have extensive experience in industry or research laboratories. Perhaps young scientists will engage in post-doctoral work in a second field. NBIC will benefit from changes in life-long learning at all levels, including in both white-collar and blue-collar occupations. NBIC concepts must be adopted early, in advance of technological developments that would require a qualified workforce.

NBIC is likely to be both creative and destructive at all levels of the scientific, economic, and social establishment, for example, creating new industries and companies, with the inescapable result that some older ones will decline or even become extinct. Thus, it will be important to educate society about the potential unintended consequences of technological innovation. Maximizing the societal benefits of a new technology is essential for it to enjoy full public support (Roco and Bainbridge 2001).

0 0

Post a comment