Two of the biggest pessimists in the  OCT 17 2005

Two of the biggest pessimists in the business, Bill Joy and Ray Kurzweil, outline their case for not releasing the genome for the 1918 influenza virus. "The genome is essentially the design of a weapon of mass destruction. No responsible scientist would advocate publishing precise designs for an atomic bomb, and in two ways revealing the sequence for the flu virus is even more dangerous."

Read more posts on kottke.org about:
billjoy   disease   genetics   raykurzweil   science   terrorism   wmd

There are 8 reader comments

Jake of 8bitjoystick.com51 17 2005 3:51PM

Actually the design for the uranium gun design "Little boy" fission atomic bomb was declassified and you can probably find them on the net.

Now getting the uranium and machining one is quite a different thing.

Kaleberg12 17 2005 4:12PM

Any terrorist from a 3rd world country trying to use influenza as a weapon will have to deal with the blowback, just as we, in the 1st world, have to deal with Al Qaeda, our weapon against the Russians in Afghanistan. The 1st world has seen a lot of medical progress since 1918, including medical oxygen, antiviral agents, steroids and the like. These are expensive, but they are available. In the 3rd world, the flu is much more likely to be a killer, and it is much less likely to be treatable.

jolie27 17 2005 5:27PM

literally, bill joy

nick57 17 2005 7:57PM

does your use of the phrase 'two of the biggest pessimists' indicate your opinion that it's a good thing?

jfrank32 17 2005 8:32PM

I find the strategy of holding back information in order to avoid potential threats really hard to support nowadays.

I feel, very deeply, that information democracy is the only way to thwart the harmful behaviour of a few, and depriving the rest of us of our knowledge is not only unfair but useless and foolish.

We can't be so naïve to think that there has been no attacks with "weapons of mass destruction" (whatever that hollow term may mean to each of us) because the ones willing to use them doesn’t know how to make or operate them.

However, if the information about, say viruses, is available to everybody, the chances of a vaccine being discovered cannot be anything else but higher.

Dood05 18 2005 3:05AM

This is the same Kurzweil who is waiting for gigadeaths via AI whilst also pushing ahead research in AI. The man has some form of hypocritical deathwish methinks.

Andrew Knott13 18 2005 4:13AM

Just because we can decode the genome doesn't mean we can do much with it. We especially cant 'reconstruct' it... Not even in the first 'world'. Any idea that today anyone can somehow recreate the virus because the genome is online is science fiction. This article is scare mongering, praying on the ignorant...

James D. Cormier09 18 200511:09AM

I'm worried less about what the public might do with it than about what the federal government has already done
with it.

But then, maybe I just took The Stand too seriously.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.

kottke.org

Front page
About + contact
Site archives

Subscribe

Follow kottke.org on Twitter

Follow kottke.org on Tumblr

Like kottke.org on Facebook

Subscribe to the RSS feed

Advertisement

Ads by The Deck

Support kottke.org shop at Amazon

And more at Amazon.com

Looking for work?

More at We Work Remotely

Kottke @ Quarterly

Subscribe to Quarterly and get a real-life mailing from Jason every three months.

 

Enginehosting

Hosting provided EngineHosting