(no subject)

From: Smigrodzki, Rafal (SmigrodzkiR@MSX.UPMC.EDU)
Date: Mon Oct 08 2001 - 12:09:27 MDT

Phil Osborne wrote:

> The use of weapons of mass destruction has gotten progressively,
exponentially cheaper. An experienced biologist can do recombinent DNA at
home with $10,000 in equipment. You don't need a cruize missile for
delivery. Just slave the autopilot of a Cesna to GPS and parachute. That
aspect - the exponentially declining cost of destruction - is not likely to
get better, and there are few good answers. This might be one of them,
Samantha Atkins replied:

Sure. But spreading the beastie efficiently and not having it
be so efficient that it smothers itself is something else

#### While as a (moderately) experienced molecular biologist I doubt that
with 10 000$ (or even 1000 000) worth of equipment you could do much damage
today, I do believe that there will be a time (perhaps in as little as 20
years), when a well-equipped lab ( about 3 - 4x10e6 $) will be able to use
the abundant data about bacterial genomes, and the flood of data from the
genome, proteome and protein interaction projects to design new, extremely
deadly, highly infectious bugs.

At that time universal surveillance of everybody by everybody might become a
conditio sine qua non of further survival of our species, unless the
friendly SI gods awaken in time to save us all.

Actually, I don't think that terrorists of the current crop would be a
likely source of such a threat - after all, if a clandestine lab in a Third
World country develops such a biowepon, and deploys it by sending a "suicide
sneezer" to infect everybody he comes in contact with, the first jet flying
back from the target country will bring the disease back with a vengeance.
Since poor countries have few resources to counter a threat (even bio
breathing masks cost money), it would be the poor that would be
disproportionately affected.

The bioweapon attack could come when a disgruntled lab worker with a death
wish for the whole world decides to end his and everybody else's misery once
and for all.

Rafal Smigrodzki, MD-PhD

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