Mitchell Howe's Critique [Was RE: Recipe for Destruction - Joy/Kurzweil NYTimes Op-Ed]

From: Eliezer S. Yudkowsky (
Date: Wed Oct 19 2005 - 13:33:47 MDT

"So let me make a case not for high security or no security, but for low
security. It is said by those who understand physical security that
most locks serve only to keep honest people honest. People who would
never think of breaking and entering can be tempted by valuable goods
left out in the open. Low-security locks and their kin also serve as
buffers against rash decision-making, and to keep hazards away from
those untrained to handle them."

This is probably closest to my own intuitive ideal: The data should be
available to researchers but it should take a little paperwork to get
ahold of it.

Unfortunately, this may be totally unrealistic. Three can keep a secret
if two are dead. If thousands of people know the sequence, it *will*
hit the Internet sooner or later.

A mixture of Low Security on the DNA sequences and on the Gene Printers
might suffice to do the job - DNA printers only print signed files keyed
to that printer, raise alarms if a forbidden sequence is entered, etc.
And the DNA sequence takes an hour's work on Google to get ahold of;
it's not a moment's thought. And even with the DNA sequence, you can't
just print it, unless you can get that particular DNA sequence signed
for your particular lab's DNA printer.

We can't keep out determined, well-funded foes. But it is a serious
matter if an individual employee gone postal can wipe out a significant
fraction of the human species with one day's work.

Eliezer S. Yudkowsky                
Research Fellow, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence

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