Friday, January 3, 2014

Can a small lab destroy the human species?

According to several experts, the answer is a definitive "yes."

This is the moral behind the story of "Walking Apocalypse," a cautionary tale of a magnificent new genetic process designed to eliminate all hereditary birth defects. When this process is sabotaged, the existence of the entire human species is in peril.

Skeet Wilson (Paul Broussard) argues against illegal human experimentation.

"Radical Evolution," a book by Joel Garreau, focuses on the four major technologies expected to significantly impact, for better or worse, the human race and human civilization in the decades to come. These are the GRIN (Genetic, Robotic, Information & Nanotech) technologies.

On page 139, the author writes:

"Nanotechnology holds out the possibility of the “gray goo” end-of-the-world scenario, in which devices too tough, too small, and too rapidly spreading to stop, suck everything vital out of all living things, reducing their husks to ashy mud in a matter of days. “Gray goo would surely be a depressing ending to our human adventure on Earth,” he writes, “far worse than mere fire or ice, and one that could stem from a simple laboratory accident. Oops.”

“Most dangerously, for the first time, these accidents and abuses are widely within the reach of individuals or small groups,” he wrote. Knowledge alone will enable the use of them.” Nuclear weapons require heavy industrial processes and rare minerals. They take the resources of, at the very least, a rogue state. With a variety of GRIN technologies, by contrast, one bright but embittered loner or one dissident grad student intent on martyrdom could – in a decent biological lab, for example – unleash more death than ever dreamed of in nuclear scenarios. It could even be done by accident. Bill Joy called these “weapons of knowledge-enabled mass destruction.” What really alarmed him about these GRIN weapons was their “power of self-replication.” Unlike nuclear weapons, these horrors could make more and more of themselves. Let loose on the planet, the genetically engineered pathogens, the super-intelligent robots, the tiny nanotech assemblers and of course the computer viruses could create trillions more of themselves, vastly more unstoppable than mosquitoes bearing the worst plagues."

The principal problem is control and regulation. It's impossible to oversee every small genetics lab across the entire world, to make sure that someone in America, Russia, China, North Korea or Iran has stumbled across a process that, in the wrong hands, could be perverted into a weapon of mass human destruction.

The threat is real, and it's growing. We all know there's no future without progress, but certain technologies, especially the so-called GRIN, must be subject to standards and oversight. Otherwise, by accident or design, we could see another extinction event on planet Earth: our own.

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