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

The Avantguardian avantguardian2020 at yahoo.com
Tue Oct 18 21:28:38 UTC 2005

--- Russell Wallace <russell.wallace at gmail.com> wrote:

> And my point is that it would be much better if the
> way it gets stopped is
> that scientists agree to behave responsibly, rather
> than get to the point
> where the world feels (with reason) that there's no
> alternative to a legal
> ban.

But Russell, those scientists DID behave responsibly.
They weighed the risk and found it to be vanishingly
small just like I did after the fact. That some trendy
spin doctors, who have a cursory understanding of
biology, try to convince the public that it was
irresponsible to publish the flu genome, does not make
it so.

I work with viruses as well (HIV) and believe me, we
are a responsible bunch. Sure there are bad apples
amongst scientists, but there are bad apples in any
group. We do a fairly good job of policing our own.
You HAVE to trust someone or nothing will get done.
Why not us? 

If scientists, especially scientists with military and
martial arts backgrounds, are dangerous because of
what they know, does it not make more sense to trust
that their moral compass is at least as accurate as
that of the politicians that you entrust with the
lives of your children? Do you not think that it would
be wiser for the system to make sure that scientists
were happy rather than "well-controlled" and

Do you think putting MORE restrictions on scientists
will make them LESS likely to use their knowledge to
attempt to overthrow a system whose corruption is more
obvious to them than to the average citizen?

It has been my experience, Hollywood stereotypes
aside, that scientists are some of the most
conscientious people around. Because they are so
smart, they see hidden injustices and subtle breaches
of ethics of which most people are blissfully unaware.
They already have SO MUCH bureacracy to deal with, do
you really think the world would be safer if they had

In so far as smart people tend to be amongst the most
empathic of individulas, to a good first
approximation, anyone who can UNDERSTAND the genome of
a virus, deserves to know it. Anybody who ought not
know it, will only see a bunch of meaningless A's T's
C's and G's. If you wanted to compare the viral genome
to a computer virus, one would have to allow for the
fact that a biotech "blackhat" would have to first
build the computer to run the "malicious code" that
Kurzweil is trying to scare you with. To date there
are no parallels to "script-kiddies" in biotech that
have merely to "cut and paste" malicious genetic code
to cause damage.  

Furthermore the bird-flu is mostly media hype. If you
don't believe me, then believe the markets. The Bush
administration is trying to force Aventis-Pasteur and
other vaccine manufacturers to create a vaccine for it
and they are stubbornly refusing because they don't
see any profit in it. If big pharm sees no profit in
the cure, I wouldn't worry about the disease, nor the
genome of the virus that causes it. But then again, I
wouldn't roll around in chicken coops, either. ;)

The Avantguardian 
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

Yahoo! Mail - PC Magazine Editors' Choice 2005 

More information about the extropy-chat mailing list