[Politech] Ray Kurzweil and Bill Joy: Publishing 1918 flu virus code is "weapon of mass destruction" [fs]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Mon Oct 17 2005 - 14:14:10 PDT

Some background on Bill Joy's warnings of death and doom (some more 
sound than others) and his Wired Magazine article:

A discussion we had last year on "biohackers" being a real threat:

A Q&A I did last month with Ray Kurzweil:



...Specific insights - for example, that a key mutation noted in one 
gene may in part explain the virus's unusual virulence - could be 
published without disclosing the complete genetic recipe. The precise 
genome could potentially be shared with scientists with suitable 
security assurances.

We urgently need international agreements by scientific organizations to 
limit such publications and an international dialogue on the best 
approach to preventing recipes for weapons of mass destruction from 
falling into the wrong hands. Part of that discussion should concern the 
appropriate role of governments, scientists and their scientific 
societies, and industry.

We also need a new Manhattan Project to develop specific defenses 
against new biological viral threats, natural or human made. There are 
promising new technologies, like RNA interference, that could be 
harnessed. We need to put more stones on the defensive side of the scale.

We realize that calling for this genome to be "un-published" is a bit 
like trying to gather the horses back into the barn. Perhaps we will be 
lucky this time, and we will indeed succeed in developing defenses for 
these killer flu viruses before they are needed. We should, however, 
treat the genetic sequences of pathological biological viruses with no 
less care than designs for nuclear weapons...
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