How Genetic Information will Change the World



Filed under genomics

14 responses to “How Genetic Information will Change the World


    The Darker BIoweapons Future
    Nov 2003 Unclassified CIA document

    “As one expert remarked: “In the life sciences, we now are where information technology was in the 1960’s; more than any other science, it will revolutionize the 21st century.”

    “The genomic revolution is pushing biotechnology into an explosive growth phase. Panelists asserted that the resulting wave front of knowledge will evolve rapidly and be so broad, complex, and widely available to the public…”

    “Consequently, most panelists argued that a qualitiatively different relationship between the government and life sciences communities might be needed to most effectively grapple with the future BW threat.”

    • “The main thing that stands between the human species and the creation of a supervirus is a sense of responsibility among individual biologists.” -The Demon in the Freeze, page 227

      In other words, the genomic revolution is dual-use, and in my opinion currently our society isn’t up to the task of preventing cosmopolitan spread of this dual-use knowledge. Ironically, in the pursuit of longevity, we are inviting a super plague and consequencial severe degradation of average longevity.

  2. I doubt that bioweapons will be a serious problem. An individual can’t create them because s/he has no way to test them on humans without getting caught. Only a state actor or state-protected terrorist group can create effective bioweapons. However, for a state the problem is that nothing prevents the disease from spreading to its own population; the weapon is counterproductive. Likewise if a state is protecting a terrorist group, it would probably not allow it to develop a really dangerous bioweapon. And even if it did, the necessary testing would almost certainly be discovered by intelligence services.
    If bioweapons were going to be a severe problem, we’d know it already. Yes the technology is getting easier, but for groups with resources it’s been feasible for a long time, and we haven’t seen superbugs released.

    • Richard Danzig, a former Navy secretary and now a biowarfare consultant to the Pentagon, said that while there are 1,000 to 10,000 “weaponeers” worldwide with experience working on biological arms, there are more than 1 million and perhaps many millions of “broadly skilled” scientists who, while lacking training in that narrow field, could construct bioweapons. “It seems likely that, over a period between a few months and a few years, broadly skilled individuals equipped with modest laboratory equipment can develop biological weapons,” Danzig said. “Only a thin wall of terrorist ignorance and inexperience now protects us.” –Washington Post, December 29, 2004

      • Yes, I agree. DIY trend is getting stronger and stronger. Generally, of course, it’s a good thing. However, we have keep in mind that really the probability of bioweapon creation is getting higher and higher. Maybe just 20 different harmful viruses could destroy the humanity. And we have to take safety measures to protect our civilization from this threat.

        • The old USSR (now Russia) had ICBMs with refridgeration units mounted in the cones, and genetically modified and “heated” (i.e. intentionally made much more virulent and lethal) pathogens. It was intended to be a second strike weapon wiping out virtually all humans. This was a while ago – the scale was amazing – before the genomic revolution.

          Also, in Australia some researchers (trying to kill mice with mousepox- a close cousin of smallpox) added the IL-4 gene and kill ALL tested mice including those that were bred to resist mousepox. That research was published. It was nicknamed “superpox” because of the dramatic increasse in virulence and lethality – and can legitimately be cited as one way to heat a pathogen (frankly it is quite easy to add a gene to a pathogen, and it is very easy to either create or mail order a gene).

  3. Mitchell Porter

    This is a video I can endorse more or less 100%. There’s a transcendental component to transhumanism – hoping to live literally forever, or even just for a lifespan counted in thousands or millions of years – which is really much more a matter of hope than of science. But biotech as the new I.T. – the basis of the next big transformation of technological society – is reality; and that reality really ought to extend as far as comprehensive regeneration and rejuvenation, when it is played out to its conclusion. Our bodies manage to grow out in the young form at least once in our lives, I know of no reason why they cannot do it again once we understand the causality of the original process.

    It has occurred to me that an aspect of the genetics revolution which is neglected in life-extension discourse so far is what you could call “somatic metagenomics”, the study of the ecogenome of the bacterial communities living inside us. I began to pay attention that this subject because genetically tailored bacteria are a natural candidate for a safe method of deep-tissue genetic intervention – in my opinion they should replace nonbiological nanobots as the standard way to think about directed biological modification. There’s already a whole ecosystem of them living in there. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that health itself is also going to be defined by the state of our bacterial “endo-ecosystem”, and not just by the state of our own cells (which is the SENS-style focus).

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