The headline says:
Tech's dark potential troubles terror expert
And the article, in the San Jose Mercury News, reports:
Five years from now, a wave of cyber attacks cripples the Internet infrastructure and global finance. One terrorist assault targets a supercomputer hub at Moffett Field near Mountain View.
At the same time, accelerated advances in computer science and biotechnology raise the prospect of genetic enhancement that could lead to 'super kids', and computer hookups to the brain that could alter the nature of humanity.
In Richard Clarke's new thriller Breakpoint, an unusual blend of science fiction, politics and tech talk, the world is a more dangerous place. China is a prime suspect in the attacks, along with Russian mobsters, a shadowy group of hackers and some right-wing anti-technology militants.
But Clarke, who made headlines as terrorism czar in the Clinton and Bush administrations, has set out to write something much more than a fast-paced airport read.
With a plot sure to create a buzz in the tech community, he wants to generate a debate from Silicon Valley to Washington on difficult ethical and practical questions he thinks will demand attention in the next 10 years. . .
Clarke concedes it's difficult to predict when emerging technologies in genetic engineering, for example, could be widely available.
And even if U.S. regulations are adopted, rapid research will happen outside the country, he adds, just as restrictions on embryonic stem cell research prompted research elsewhere.
"We need to be aware of what's coming, because sometimes new technologies burst on the scene before we decide if we want them and what the consequences are," Clarke said during an interview. . .
James Hughes, a bioethicist and sociologist, said, "The scenarios Clarke describes are quite plausible," though genetic enhancements will require years of clinical trials with animals and face serious liability problems.
The U.S. military has conducted research in brain-computer linkages, exoskeleton body suits to enhance strength and endurance and pharmaceuticals to improve stamina. Clarke includes a five-page author's note that describes the status of technologies he refers to in the book.
Some of these developments "scare the hell out of some people," said Hughes, director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. He favors the use of new technologies to improve human capability, with some controls. . .
Read the rest.