Re: LIST: the Gooies

Lyle Burkhead (
Mon, 19 Apr 1999 20:18:30 -0700

Greg Burch writes,

> I have been convinced by some pretty rigorous reasoning,
> explained by some pretty smart people, that one does NOT need
> to make a "genie machine" or even a "general-purpose assembler"
> to cause Very Bad Things to happen with molecular scale technology.
> In fact, I'm so convinced of this that I think it's irresponsible to
> discuss the details of such ideas in an open, public forum.

...and then he goes on to discuss the idea in an open, public forum, in enough detail to get the idea across:

> Suffice it to say, Lyle, that a technology capable of causing
> severe destruction on a scale up to and including the level of
> a planetary ecology can be created with molecular technology
> well short of a general-purpose assembler. Here's a hint:
> consider the kind of havoc that computer virii can cause,
> even though we're nowhere close to "general-purpose
> artificial intelligence"; all that's required is the capacity for
> self-replication.

Gee, thanks for the hint. I'll tell all my hacker friends that a whole new realm of fun is out there just waiting to be explored. Never mind hacking computer systems, now we can hack the planetary ecosystem!

Seriously, I agree that it would be possible to cause severe destruction with artificial viruses. That proposition is not what I am arguing against, either in this thread or in Geniebusters.

As for discussing it openly, I think any hacker who can attempt such a thing can figure out how to do it by himself.

If they really start doing this, God help us all.