February 19, 2004

Technological Control is Not Enough

Anne Applebaum's column on bioterrorism demonstrates the futility of just erecting a wall between the 1st world and some 'arc of instability' that we consign to permanent disconnectedness from capital, ideas, and economic progress. $5,000,000 and 5 biogeneticists today gets you from a warehouse to a fully functioning biowar lab anywhere in the world and the equipment necessary can be ordered by mail. What's more, the equipment can be cobbled together by picking through the first world's trash bins. It's not cutting edge materials that can be, in any way, realistically controlled. When first rate computational clusters (beowulf clusters) can be assembled from hardware that we ship to the PRC as garbage to be recycled, we're well beyond the realistic possiblity of technical controls.

The only thing available is attitude controls. Such bioweapons are hugely risky. They are not something you just unleash for a petty problem that could be hashed out with lawyers. If the weapons themselves are uncontrollable, it is not inevitable that there will be people so enraged, so disconnected from the rest of the world that they will actually deploy such horrors. And that gets us right back to Core and Gap.

The capability to ravage the world is becoming democratized to the point far below the wealth level of your run of the mill 3rd world business mogul. Keeping them outside is no longer an option. Will we realize it in time?

Posted by TMLutas at February 19, 2004 02:13 PM