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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Bio-Warfare Calls for... Bio-Augmentation?

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This article on bio-warfare and bio-terrorism makes an excellent point. The technology and skills for making designer plagues are becoming increasingly available to potential terrorists. I often keep up with catastrophically destructive technologies on this site because of the impact radically augmented human intelligence could have on their development.

Or to put it another way, if a skilled or even brilliant al Qaeda Ph.D. with a well-stocked lab is a nightmare today, imagine what a fanatic of any stripe and a savant-like ability to synthesize implausible new diseases could do to us. Especially if they also had ridiculously advanced abilities when it came to planning, strategy and the gathering of extraordinary resources.

The article notes that Ray Kurzweil and Senator Bill Frist have both called for a "Manhattan Project" level of focus on bio-defense, "with an eye toward developing generic antiviral drugs, rapid-response vaccine production, and even more advanced techniques, yet unknown, for responding rapidly to new pathogens (whether natural or artificial in origin)."

Regardless of what you may think of the urgency of dealing with conventional bio-warfare, imagine what kinds of consequences could flow from people with implausibly advanced abilities in technological development, if they concentrated those skills on destroying the world as we know it. We might have to engage in several such "Manhattan Projects" just to stay ahead of such people... and we would have considerable motivation to engage in judicious augmentation ourselves -- particularly of the scientists and law-enforcement personnel needed to contain such threats.

We may also find more human enhancement technology flowing out of research into preventing bio-terrorism. Why? Because human augmentation isn't a discrete part of the biotech industry. Rather, all of the serious enhancement therapies being developed seem to be side effects of treatments for medical conditions (Alzheimer's, etc). A massive effort to create resistance to bio-warfare would be apt to yield "dual-use" research -- science which could be applied to other opportunities. If nothing else, we would be to develop a kind of human far more resistant to exotic diseases than the typical person is now. And that would most definitely be an augmentation.


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Future Imperative

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