Re: Jamais Cascio's Critique [Was RE: Recipe for Destruction - Joy/Kurzweil NYTimes Op-Ed]

Date: Wed Oct 19 2005 - 10:04:51 MDT

On Wed, 19 Oct 2005, Tyler Emerson wrote:

> Jamais Cascio of has written one of the better online
> critiques of "Recipe for Destruction" seen to date:

Generally I'm strongly in support of open flow of information. However
with the ability to build a virus from its DNA, publishing the sequence
is not all that much different than giving the virus to anyone who asks.

The genomes of flu pandemics and SARS and other highly contagious diseases
need to be treated with the same level of care that the organisms
themselves are. They should be available to responsible researchers, but
should not be broadcast. You should need something similar to a security
clearance. If and when a cure is found then the genomes should be made

Some issues I have with this article:

"Kurzweil and Joy overestimate the risk the virus poses today. People now
  alive come from generations that encountered and survived that flu;"

Few people alive today where alive in 1918. Nor was the flu far
reaching enough to wipe out everyone who was genetically susceptable to
it. Plenty of susceptable people lived to pass on there genes by avoiding
exposure. Any protection of this sort is minimal at best.

"Moreover, we now have anti-viral medications against which this nearly
  century-old virus strain would have no defense."

If the anti virals are so effective why is the ordinary flu still such
a killer? The anti virals arn't like anti biotics, they lessen the effect
of the flu but arn't cures.

"To claim that its release would be worse than an atomic bomb is sheer

A single atom bomb would have a hard time killing as many people as this
flu would likely kill. The world is more connected and densely
populated than it was in 1918, not less.

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