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« Molecular building blocks | Main | Darwin says: Cooperate »

December 01, 2004


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Tom Craver

Generally, when I hear "X is to important to be left to scientists", I find it means "I see where this science is heading and I don't like it - but once it's possible, other people will like it and want it, and it'll be too late then for me to stop them - so I want to stop these scientists now."

So long as the scientists are not hurting anyone, I say let the science be done, and decide what derived technologies we will disallow, if there is some reason to do so. Don't allow a minority to short-circuit the choice for the rest of us.

John B

While you're correct in that the above arguement is often used to mask ulterior motives and plain ole obstructionism, it can also be a valid concern.

Tom's line, "So long as the scientists are not hurting anyone" is the kicker. HOW DO WE KNOW? How do we know that the medical miracle drug under testing isn't going to turn out to be the next thalidomide? How do we know that the

To answer my own question - peer review, increasing levels of testing (for drugs this includes chemistry studies, cell studies, animal studies, limited human studies, and/or broad-scope human studies. All may be used before a drug's released, and even then there can be problems), and the core of the scientific method - repeatability of results.

But what if we get to something as transformative as nanotech almost certainly will be? That's not letting a genie out of a bottle - that's potentially opening the gates to hell, or to heaven, or even to both.

Pardon the purple prose, but it's heartfelt. Nanotech may well be the first truely existential risk we face.

I just hope that we make the 'right' choices with regards to it, whatever they end up being.


Tom Craver

Lay discussion and commentary on risks or benefits (such as we do in this forum) is fine, and if someone comes up with something they think is really important that the scientists involved don't appear to be aware of - fine, communicate it to them.

But that's very different from what is usually implied by the "too important for scientists" crowd.

James Patrick Buchanan

I agree with Tom Craver, as many Neo-Luddites appear to only feel good about themselves when they are forcing their way of living, or in this case dying, upon others. I suppose this reafferms their strange beliefs in some sick way.

I also know from talking with a few of them, that if these technologies are developed, Luddites fear that in their old age and/or bad health, that their will power will break and they will use these innovations (that their god forbids) to live longer, better, and healthier lives.

In their minds, it is better to stop human progress now then to succumb in their old age and/or sickness to the temptation of using Life Enhancing technology. Luddites need to grow up, get a life, and stop attempting to reaffirm their beliefs by forcing these beilefs upon others!

James Patrick Buchanan

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