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Biowarfare & Bioterror: lessons for nanotech

Foresight director Glenn Reynolds writes at TCS Daily about a major piece now running at Technology Review on biowarfare and bioterror.

Basically it sounds as though we have gotten ourselves into a situation where biotech can now be used pretty easily by terrorists, exotic bioweapons (perhaps targeted on ethnic groups) are within the reach of nation-states, and effective biodefense is at least a decade away even with a Manhattan-style project.

This is a lousy situation to be in, and even if we solve this problem, we will go through it all again with nanotech. As Glenn says, “We’ve never seen a technological revolution that somebody didn’t try to weaponize.” So let’s use more foresight for nano than we did for bio, and design the defenses well in advance, so we can build them as soon as fabrication tools catch up with design tools. —Christine

One Response to “Biowarfare & Bioterror: lessons for nanotech”

  1. Eoin Clancy Says:

    As someone who is very interested and working in an area related to this field, I found this article very thought provoking

    FTA “Into a relatively innocuous bacterium responsible for a low-mortality pneumonia, Legionella pneumophila, Popov and his researchers spliced mammalian DNA that expressed fragments of myelin protein, the electrically insulating fatty layer that sheathes our neurons. In test animals, the pneumonia infection came and went, but the myelin fragments borne by the recombinant Legionella goaded the animals’ immune systems to read their own natural myelin as pathogenic and to attack it. Brain damage, paralysis, and nearly 100 percent mortality resulted: Popov had created a biological weapon that in effect triggered rapid multiple sclerosis. (Popov’s claims can be corroborated: in recent years, scientists researching treatments for MS have employed similar methods on test animals with similar results)”

    The genie has been let out of the bottle. While it can never be put back, lets all work towards using nanobiotechnology for the betterment of human kind

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