Good governance for nanotechnology and nanomaterials is predicated on principles of general good governance. This paper discusses on what lessons we can learn from the oversight of past emerging technologies in formulating these principles. Nanotechnology provides us a valuable opportunity to apply these lessons and a duty to avoid repeating past mistakes. To do that will require mandatory regulation, grounded in precaution, that takes into account the uniqueness of nanomaterials. Moreover, this policy dialogue is not taking place in a vacuum. In applying the lessons of the past, nanotechnology provides a window to renegotiate our public's social contract on chemicals, health, the environment, and risks. Emerging technologies illuminate structural weaknesses, providing a crucial chance to ameliorate lingering regulatory inadequacies and provide much needed updates of existing laws.