Nanotechnology was among the many hot topics discussed at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Among the five conceptual pillars for this year’s Forum was the topic: "Exploring Nature’s New Frontiers," which is described here. It’s a nice concept, I believe, because it highlights the diverse areas — everything from global climate change to disease eradication — in which nanotechnology and other emerging technologies may play a role.
In addition, as reported by Nanowerk, the World Economic Forum-founded "Global Risk Network" released its 2008 annual report [1.6mb pdf] that described nanotechnology risk as a "Core Risk." Unsurprisingly, the driver for characterizing nanotechnology as a "Core Risk" appeared to be the still-preliminary state of the research into nanotechnology safety:
The report notes that studies reveal health impairment due to exposure to widely used nanoparticles (paint, cosmetics, healthcare). The primary impacts of a potential problem would be on public health, with secondary impacts on investment in a range of nanotechnologies.
It also states that increasing human exposure to nanotechnology will increase severity should an event occur, but this has to be balanced against the multiple opportunities created by nanotechnology.