March 13, 2006

Nano and bio death abound

Looks like the peril of nanotechnology and biotechnology is the topic de jour around ye ol' blogosphere these days.

Salon got the existential ball of doom rolling last week by publishing I, Nanobot (abstract: Scientists are on the verge of breaking the carbon barrier -- creating artificial life and changing forever what it means to be human. And we're not ready).

Today KurzweilAI is reporting on how Robert A. Freitas Jr. and Bill Joy are the recipients of this year's Lifeboat Foundation Guardian Award:
[Freitas] has pioneered nanomedicine and analysis of self-replicating nanotechnology. He advocates "an immediate international moratorium, if not outright ban, on all artificial life experiments implemented as nonbiological hardware. In this context, 'artificial life' is defined as autonomous foraging replicators, excluding purely biological implementations (already covered by NIH guidelines tacitly accepted worldwide) and also excluding software simulations which are essential preparatory work and should continue."

Bill Joy wrote "Why the future doesn't need us" in Wired in 2000 and with Guardian 2005 Award winner Ray Kurzweil, he wrote the editorial "Recipe for Destruction" in the New York Times in which they argued against publishing the recipe for the 1918 influenza virus. In 2006, he helped launch a $200 million fund directed at developing defenses against biological viruses.
Not to be outdone, Glenn Harlan Reynolds (who I like) of Tech Central Stupid (which I dislike) has just written Biowarfare and Bioterror: The Future Is Now. Reynolds is mostly reporting on a Technology Review article, Biowar for Dummies (abstract: How hard is it to build your own weapon of mass destruction? We take a crash course in supervirus engineering to find out) by Paul Boutin.

Chiming in on all of this danerous knowledge is Mike Treder of the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.

Phew, okay, now I'm depressed.

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