[extropy-chat] Re: Recipe for Destruction - Joy/Kurzweil NYTimesOp-Ed

kevinfreels.com kevin at kevinfreels.com
Tue Oct 18 12:47:05 UTC 2005

Publishing the genome isn't even like publishing blueprints of the Gatling
gun. It is more like a parts lilst for a Gatling gun. The genome itself does
not tell the how to build the virus or how to turn it into a weapon. It
doesn;t describe the processes necessary to capture and modify the virus.
This is nothing like blueprints of atomic bombs. Filtering this knowledge is
more like preventing atomic weapons from falling into the wrong hands by not
making the periodic table available to the public.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "The Avantguardian" <avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com>
To: "ExI chat list" <extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org>
Sent: Monday, October 17, 2005 8:43 PM
Subject: Re: [extropy-chat] Re: Recipe for Destruction - Joy/Kurzweil

> --- "Eliezer S. Yudkowsky" <sentience at pobox.com>
> wrote:
> > Szilard and Rabi together voted not to publish, and
> > Fermi felt obliged
> > to go along with the majority.  As a direct result,
> > the German A-bomb
> > project did not realize that graphite was an
> > effective neutron
> > moderator, and went with the less efficient
> > alternative of heavy water.
> >   This is one of the major reasons that Germany's
> > A-bomb project, which
> > got started before the Allies, did not achieve a
> > chain reaction before
> > the end of the war.
> >
> > It's not like this kind of situation is historically
> > unprecedented, for
> > all that only historians know the precedents.
> >
> > I have to agree with Kurzweil and Joy.  Publishing
> > the genome of the
> > 1918 Spanish flu in open-access databases seems, to
> > me, stupid.
> There is a glaring difference between the two
> situations, Eleizer. In one case you are talking about
> publishing a potential component for a new high-tech
> weapon that had never before existed. Like publishing
> the blue prints for the detonator of a photon torpedo
> or something. In the other, you are talking about
> publishing the genome of a flu strain that has been
> around for almost 100 years. It is as if there is an
> uproar over somebody publishing the blue prints of a
> civil war era gattling gun. It's not even as bad as
> publishing the polio genome since, at least, the polio
> virus no longer exists in nature.
> Yeah, influenza COULD be used as a bio-weapon but it
> would make a lousy one. You need at least a level 3
> biocontainment lab even to work with it, it doesn't
> live very long outside of a host, and there are no
> easy ways of infecting your enemy with it without also
> infecting your own population. Even with suicidal
> mujadeen hosts, you would have to keep them in an
> airtight container until you got them to the enemy.
> Meanwhile the optimal window for transmitting the
> virus is only about 48-72 hours. If it was really that
> useful as a biological weapon, WE would have have
> weaponized it by now.
> Terrorists probably would not have even considered it
> at all if there were not op/eds in the NY Times about
> using it as a bioweapon. That's the problem with
> scare-mongers is that they insist on performing some
> of the hardest parts of terrorism for the terrorists.
> Namely figuring out what scares the populace you are
> trying to terrorize. About the only saving grace about
> all this nonsense is that if the media were to be
> believed, they would have to conclude that Americans
> are AFRAID of EVERYTHING which has got make it tough
> for the terrorists to decide on a specific course of
> action.
> The Avantguardian
> is
> Stuart LaForge
> alt email: stuart"AT"ucla.edu
> "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it
through not dying." - Woody Allen
> "Our hope of immortality does not come from any religions, but nearly all
religions come from that hope" - Robert G. Ingersoll
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