Re: GENE/SOC: Playing Devil's Advocate

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sun Apr 30 2000 - 12:34:26 MDT

On Sun, 30 Apr 2000 wrote:

Curt makes a number of good points, rather bore people with
too much discussion of fine points (since I'd like to see some other
opinions), I'll only comment on a couple of points.

> Real interesting to see your take on this. I'm in an
> ecologically oriented biology department, and they say
> the same thing about diversity - but they like
> biodiversity and don't worry much about plagues,
> so they see it as good!

It would be real interesting to get some "ecologists",
"microbiologists" and "doctors" in the same room to
discuss the relative merits of promoting or limiting the
diversity of the biosphere. I strongly suspect that
there would be some more than "mild" disagreements.

> Re: hygenic approaches to limiting bio-exposure...
> >Not a bad approach. Ideally you would want to retrofit it so its
> >a permanent add-on. I have my doubts as to whether that could be
> >done with biotech. It might require hard nanotech.
> We can stop current organisms just fine with current technology. (although
> it would be pretty expensive!) Both autoclaves and 0.22 micron filters
> stop anything cellular. Naturally there will be some leakage, due
> to Murphy's law and incompetence. However, we don't have to stop
> *everything*, we just need to get transmission and spread rates of a
> novel airborne pathogen down to the point where we can take countermeasures.

Remember, that I tend to assume lifespan extending technologies are
"virtually" a done-deal. So each life becomes *much* more valuable.
The net wealth accumulation presumably allows hundred-year-olds
to spend millions of dollars "protecting" themsleves from possible
"accidents". When you are spending that kind of money personally
to protect yourself, options like dumping biocides worldwide start
to appear relatively attractive.

I can see the ads now: "Autoclave the world today, so your children
can live a bug-free life...". Maybe I can get Robert Freitas to
do the calculation on how much diamondoid we would need for the
autoclave.... :-)

It may take a while and perhaps never be completely done, but a complete
global genomic bioinventory would allow one to "reasonably" consider this
approach since the information loss would be relatively minimal.
[Yes, I know some will complain about the loss of learned behaviors
and such, but strategies such as extensive filming with ubiquitous
cameras, possible future retraining with programmed robots, etc.
would suggest that these problems can be worked around.]

Please bear in mind that I'm suggesting this tongue-in-cheek (as an
exploration of an option no "sane" person would seriously consider).


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