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Two of the biggest pessimists in the

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.”

Reader comments

Jake of 8bitjoystick.comOct 17, 2005 at 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.

KalebergOct 17, 2005 at 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.

jolieOct 17, 2005 at 5:27PM

literally, bill joy

nickOct 17, 2005 at 7:57PM

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

jfrankOct 17, 2005 at 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.

DoodOct 18, 2005 at 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 KnottOct 18, 2005 at 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. CormierOct 18, 2005 at 11:09AM

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.