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

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