Converging Technologies to foster a Sustainable Development in the Energy sector
Nanotechnology,1 biotechnology,2 information technology3 and cognitive science4 (NBIC’s)5 are the subjects of a converging process that offers both challenges and opportunities for the development of our societies.6 They are changing the paradigm in scientific research towards an interdisciplinary-holistic approach to the design, production, utilization and confinement of goods & services. By taking advantage of NBICs, certain societies are fostering a tendency towards an innovation oriented economy to such an extent that every input could become the subject matter of legal controversy.
One of the most important commodities in any economy is energy. Energy is both the foundation and a prerequisite for nearly all economic activities. With the command and control of energy, we are able to transform bulk materials into products and/or services that are exchangeable on the market. The increasing demand for energy puts our societies in such a vulnerable situation that we must pursue research to foster innovation in the production, transformation, distribution, and/or confinement of energy to achieve regional energy stability.
7. Image: pixabay.comThe convergence process aims at achieving reciprocal compatibility and synergism of different disciplines and technologies, by integrating application of knowledge at all levels of length (e.g. starting from atom, gene, and neuron scale), time and complexity.
By developing this convergence process, new techniques to achieve a better control of energy conversion and confinement are enhanced. This fosters the development of photovoltaic systems that use recombinantcells which build chemical precursors for the production of better performingsolars cells. The consumption of raw materials can thus be reduced with positive effects on environmental quality and weather implications, specifically by means of stronger and lighter wind generators.
Due to the intrinsic complexity of each technological area in NBICs and the nature of the energy system, laws and regulations may have too broad and imprecise repercussions in particular when not taking into account the following criteria:
- the nanoscale;
- the blurred boundary between these technologies; and
- the properties and characteristics of new materials and their applications in the energy production process.
This could — and in all probability will — generate uncertainty for investors by increasing the risk of litigation thereby slowing down or limiting the development of the convergence process of these technologies and the incentive to invest private capital.
A responsible innovation-based economy should promote every possible mechanism to enhance our capacity to diminish the human impact on the environment while encouraging the economy to achieve sustainable development. Such laws and regulations should be promulgated and implemented in the framework of political, legal and economic instruments intended to ensure legal certainty for individuals, and energy autonomy for the State while preserving the environment and promoting sustainable development, particularly through the promotion of NBICs.
1 “Nanotechnologies are the design, characterization, production and application of structures, devices and systems by controlling shape and size at nanometre scale.” Royal Society & Royal Academy of Engineering. 2004. Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties. London: The Royal Society 2004. http://www.nanotec.org.uk/report/ Nano%20report%202004%20fin.pdf
2 “Biotechnology, a word that raises hopes and concerns! But what does it cover? – Simply put, all industrial processes that involve the use and implementation of living organisms, bacteria, yeast, animal or plant cells, etc. – First of all, a knowledge base, tools, techniques that can be applied to many industries, including pharmaceuticals, food processing, environmental protection, ultimately all industries associated with quality of Life” HACHE, J., Les enjeux des biotechnologies : Complexité et interactions, Editions EMS Management et Société. Collection « pratiques d’entreprises », dirigée par BOYER, L., Colombelles, France, 2005, p. 11.
3 “From an economic perspective, technology consists in the application of information either tacit (know-how, skills) or coded (drawings, models, chemical formulas) in the design, production, and utilization of goods and services. In contrast with science, the creation of new technology is primarily a business matter. As an illustration, the share of climate-related patents – protecting technologies aiming at reducing greenhouse gas emissions – filed by public bodies is in average less than ten percent in most countries. 2 Contrary to standard tangible goods, technology and knowledge production and dissemination inevitably involves a public policy dimension.” OECD Green Growth Papers 2013-05 GREENING GLOBAL VALUE CHAINS INNOVATION AND THE INTERNATIONAL DIFFUSION OF TECHNOLOGIES AND KNOWLEDGE.
4 “Called cognitive science all scientific disciplines dedicated to the study and understanding of the mechanisms of thought, whether human, animal or artificial, so anything that relates to knowledge.” SECROUN, C., 2011. Informatique. Paris: Éd. J.P. BAYOL. p. 50.
5 It is also called the Modern Technology Converging Process (MTCP).
6 See ROCO, C.M.; BAINBRIDGE, W., ed. Converging technologies for improving human performance nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology and cognitive science: NSF/DOC-sponsored report [Internet]. Arlington, Va.: National Science Foundation : Dept. of Commerce; 2002. Meanwhile Marie-Hélène Parizeau refers to a feature of the convergence process is manifested through the convergence of diverse scientific disciplines: -biology, chemistry, computer science, engineering, which converge under the auspices of quantum physics and makes scientific explanatory paradigm in nanoscale. PARIZEAU, M.H., Biotechnologie, nanotechnologie, écologie, entre science et idéologie, 2010, p. 57.