A new study released by Greenpeace urges caution about nanotech. In some areas, it seems surprisingly measured, but it also goes a little wacky in places, painting a sci-fi picture of a few first-world Eloi living in high tech bliss while the ballooning populations of Third World Morlocks are further immiserated. It's not entirely clear why that's less likely than a diffusion of technology that shortens the development curve of poor countries, which would be more in line with the experience of the last half-century… but it sure does sound scary.
The study was quickly and vehemently attacked by industry groups, a reaction that Howard Lovy argues may prove counterproductive, since it sends the impression that nanotech companies are unwilling to slow down and think about potential problems. There may be something to this: I haven't yet scrutinized the report in detail, but you don't have to be a raving green to worry that nanotech in the wrong hands could be terrifyingly destructive, and the industry is unlikely to assuage those fears if it automatically brushes off criticism as "industrial terrorism."
Coincidentally, Scientific American reports today that researchers at Berkeley have developed "the smallest synthetic motor that's ever been made," with a wide range of potential applications.