Re: Clueless Bio Futurists

From: Eugene Leitl (
Date: Fri May 18 2001 - 05:05:30 MDT

On Fri, 18 May 2001, dwayne wrote:

> you're kidding, right? You really think we will survive the mucking
> about that is being done now?

Life in general is tough, and we're especially tough because we use
technology as our adaptable interface. The technology is dangerous, but
luckily to become really dangerous you need evil intent, and the
properties pathological, smart and big $$$s are truly rare.

Unless you design something deliberately, putting considerable (money,
people, hardware) investments towards deliberately completely evil intent
it's hard to take us all out.

> I understand people here are a *bit* biased in favour of tech, but
> look at the monkeys pushing the buttons and tell me we are all safe.

Some of us monkeys are thinking about how to prevent stupid or
deliberately evil monkeys to depopulate this particular Gibraltar rock.
You can use technology to insulate from impacts of technology. For
instance, the same technologies which have been invented to make canned
monkeys live off-rock sustainably, to keep them healthy, and to survive
attacks by other monkeys can be used to shield us from above malicious
and bumbling intent.

> > I don't think you are alone in this idea, although I am yet to be convinced
> > of it's validity. If I keep seeing documentaries about Easter Island,
> > though, I might start having nightmares...
> Well, basically, I think some bio-weapon will get loose and do us in,
> or something will stuff up the biosphere and take us out.

Most current bioweapons can only take out something like 80% in best case.
You need several of the delayed-kill ones released stealthily ubiquitously
simultaneously. That's a rather specific point in parameter space. You
can't hit it by mistake, you have design for it.

The gray goo thing is sufficiently difficult to build, and by that time
we'll have enough canned monkeys living off-rock so that it won't be the
end of all of us.

> My current long-term plans involve somewhere remote and defensible,

A well-stocked (many, many tons of supplies) natural cave or an abandoned
mine in deep redneck country should do nicely. If no one knows you're
there, you don't even need to shoot. If you have a delayed (preferably
fossil) water source you could stay in there for decades. It helps if
you're naturally hermitish, and can live off books. Most normal people
would go crazy after just a few weeks.

> ostensibly because I like the bush and want to set up an
> eco-village/community thing, but I'm also aware that such a device
> would be mighty useful at some point in the future, at least until I
> can afford an asteroid stocked with supermodel DNA and a clone
> factory.


> I'm less pessimistic about some funky physics prac taking out this end
> of the universe, but the biologicals are just WAY yoo fuzzy for me to
> feel comfortable with. We are tinkering with incredibly complex
> systems, without understanding what we are tinkering with, let alone
> what the effects of our tinkering will be.

Another reason to work towards Diaspora. Of course, if the problems behind
your back don't nuke themselves, they're going to overtake you while in

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