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Advances in Bio-weaponry 279

kjh1 writes "Technology Review is running an eye-opening article on how biotechnology has advanced to the point where producing bio-weapons that were once only possible with the backing of governments with enormous resources is now possible with equipment purchased off eBay. You can now purchase a mini-lab of equipment for less than $10,000. The writer also interviewed a former Soviet bioweaponeer, Serguei Popov, who worked at the Biopreparat, the Soviet agency that secretly developed biological weapons. Popov has since moved to the US and provided a great deal of information on the types of weapons the Soviets were developing."
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Advances in Bio-weaponry

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  • at last (Score:5, Funny)

    by Davey McDave ( 926282 ) < minus bsd> on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:32PM (#15096450) Homepage
    A WMD that's marketed specifically for evil geniuses that are on a tight budget. The days of cheap minion labour are behind us, guys, gotta look after the pennies.
  • Oh goody (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AoT ( 107216 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:33PM (#15096454) Homepage Journal
    And I don't even trust the people who have access to bio-warfare now.
    • Re:Oh goody (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 )
      While I know the U.S. does wonderful things to advance the sciences (some sciences), the fact that this guy is a Russian reminds me that the U.S. has had help.

      First, it was the Germans. After the U.S. kicked around Germany, they poached German scientists so that the U.S. could have access to all the interesting things the Germans had been working on. Rinse and repeat after WWII.

      Then Soviet Russia collapsed and the U.S. took in mobs of poor, unpaid Russia scientists + the research that they've been working o
    • Re:Oh goody (Score:5, Insightful)

      by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @02:04AM (#15097638) Homepage
      You should not.

      Everyone and his dog has access to bioweapon design and production capabilities. Once you have got your hands on a sample of virulent bacteria like Antrax producing them is a piece of cake. Viruses are considerably more tricky but it is still feasible to produce the less fussy ones with student lab level equipment. Actually with viruses your biggest problem would be isolation, not production.

      So far so good, here everyone would ask why all the dictator wannabies and terrorists are not slugging each other with biowarfare?

      Well the answer is simple, while producing bioweapons can be done in a garage, producing a viable delivery system is something much more difficult. Testing it is even more difficult. This is clearly beyond the capabilities of most terrorists and dictatorships out there. And thanks $DEITY, otherwise we all would have been walking around wearing filter masks and wearing biowarfare suits on public transport.
      • Re:Oh goody (Score:3, Informative)

        by hey! ( 33014 )
        Once you have got your hands on a sample of virulent bacteria like Antrax producing them is a piece of cake.

        Actually, IIRC this is not the case. While it's easy to cultivate Anthrax, it is very hard to "weaponize" it: mill it so fine that it will spread on air currents as an aerosol.

        Which I take to be you point. But you make it sound like the hard part is putting it in some kind of warhead. That's relatively easy. It's not really any more complex than the IEDs they are using in Iraq.

        "Getting it right"
  • Ten grand? (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName ( 822545 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:33PM (#15096457) Journal
    Heck for $2.50, I can go to Taco Bell and be a WMD the rest of the day.
  • worried? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:34PM (#15096458) Journal
    I wouldn't worry about terrorist implications of this, it is actually very difficult for a group without large resources (and even for those with them) to create workable weapons of mass destruction and bioweaponry would deffinately fall into this catergory... From a journal article i read by J. Mueller in Terrorism and Political Violence (vol.17:487-505, 2005)

    Aum Shinrikyo, a Japanese cult that had some three hundred scientists in its employ and an estimated budget of $1 billion, reportedly tried at least nine times over five years to set off biological weapons by spraying pathogens from trucks and wafting them from rooftops, hoping fancifully to ignite an apocalyptic war. These efforts failed to create a single fatality--in fact, nobody even noticed that the attacks had taken place.
    • Re:worried? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hazem ( 472289 )
      According to a report on the CDC website ( []), 12 people died in the attack on the subway.

      By the end of that day, 15 subway stations in the world's busiest subway system had been affected. Of these, stations along the Hbiya line were the most heavily affected, some with as many as 300 to 400 persons involved. The number injured in the attacks was just under 3,800. Of those, nearly 1,000 actually required hospitalization--some for no more than a few hours, some f
      • Re:worried? (Score:4, Informative)

        by joe 155 ( 937621 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:48PM (#15096515) Journal
        I think sarin is a chemical weapons as opposed to a biological one
        • by Cyno01 ( 573917 ) <> on Sunday April 09, 2006 @07:04PM (#15096584) Homepage
          Yes, sarin is a nerve gas. And think about it, they pumped a bunch of poisin gas into a confined space with thousands of people, and managed to kill a total of 12. And this is the largest scale terrorist chemical attack ever!

          From wikipedia:
          The first successful use of chemical agents by terrorists against a general civilian population was on March 20, 1995. Aum Shinrikyo, an apocalyptic group based in Japan that believed it necessary to destroy the planet, released sarin into the Tokyo subway system killing 12 and injuring over 5,000. The group had attempted biological and chemical attacks on at least 10 prior occasions, but managed to affect only cult members. The group did manage to successfully release sarin outside an apartment building in Matsumoto in June 1994; this use was directed at a few specific individuals living in the building and was not an attack on the general population.

          Sucessful dispersal of chemical and biological agents is tough. Government funded programs have not been very effective, what makes anyone think that terrorists could come up with an effective delivery system.
          • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @07:19PM (#15096647)
            It doesn't have to be effective. If they did it five times and killed one person each time the population would be effectively terrorized. The purpose of terrorism isn't to kill people per-se. It's to scare them into some sort of action. Most people are perfectly happy to let any situation ride as long as it doesn't effect their daily lives. The terrorists seeks to effect the daily life of a fat dumb and happy or at least create the perception of the effect.
            • True, but the point is, theres no real danger other than "terror". And if people would stop sensationalizing WMD, people wouldnt be in terror of them because they're largely ineffective.
              • by JDevers ( 83155 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @08:07PM (#15096803)
                While I understand your sentiment, professionally designed WMDs can be very dangerous and are very effective. Tell me that a 10 kiloton nuke couldn't kill thousands of people with almost no planning and hundreds of thousands with only a marginal plan. There is a big difference between a terrorist organization and a government though. There isn't just the money, there is the rationale and expertise. Terrorists want to be showy, if it isn't scary to think about it isn't terrorism. Governments don't really care about being showy (well, they do, but in the large political scale not in the "every shot counts" way). A crate of CO2 tubes let go in a dense subway tunnel would kill a lot more than 12 people, but it isn't nearly as scary as a sarin gas attack. Just like the concept of a suitcase nuke is so much more scary the the one in the back of a semi truck. It takes top notch engineering to make a small and clean nuke, it takes a library card, some electricians, and some uranium to make a bigger and dirty one.

                I want to add an addendum that I personally don't lose sleep over the threat of a terrorist attack. More people die every day in car wrecks or from heart attacks than in any terrorist attack. While I eat a pretty healthy diet, I drive rush hour traffic every day and don't drive slow. My risk from that is about a thousand times worse than any sort of terrorist attack, especially if I were to figure in that I don't exactly live in a top 10 list of potential targets (or top 1000 for that matter). I just wish more people would think about the simple statistics instead of the "fear factor" and terrorists would be out of the proverbial job.
                • Correction - it takes some highly enriched uranium, a library card, and an electrician to make a nuclear weapon.

                  Making HEU is a very difficult task; Zippe-type centrifuges can't be put together in your back shed. More plausibly, they could steal it or buy it on the black market, but even that's going to be very difficult.

                  WMD's are a bogus category, in my opinion, draw a bogus analogy between nukes, which genuinely can kill tens of thousands of people at a shot without any great operational genius, and chemical and biological weapons, which seem to be very hard to make that lethal, even though theoretically they can be.

                  • > Correction - it takes some highly enriched uranium,
                    > a library card, and an electrician to make a nuclear weapon.

                    Or if you're MacGyver, the library card, a putty knife, and the game ball from the 1987 Superbowl.
                  • Whereas plutonium does not require isotopic enrichment. HEU is not required for nuclear weapons. I think I could make one for under US$ 2 million, but it would take a while.

                    Even so, the real threat is from national governments. It must be very tempting to the Chinese, for example, to deploy an IL-4 enhanced virus that only kills caucasians. Or vice-versa the USUK.

                    • Actually, killing lots of people draws too much attention. It must me much more tempting for the Chinese to develop a virus or fungus that causes massive crop failures in the Midwest and spraying the stuff over the cornfields from a commercial airliner. Much more effective eceonomically and easier too. A cropland is a difficult target to miss.

                      But not something a terrorist would do. Not showy enough probably.
                • I personally don't lose sleep over the threat of a terrorist attack.

                  I lose sleep over the political/societal reaction to the terrorist attack. You think that civil rights in this country were damaged by 9/11? Imagine what the response would be like to, say, Chicago getting hit by a tactical nuke. Sealed borders? Concentration camps? Apocalyptic cults? Economic crash? Fundamentalist/reactionary politics? I think the secondary damage would almost certainly outweigh the primary damage by an order of ma

                  • Chicago getting tac nuked by terrorists, reaction woul probably along the lines of FAE carpet bombing the sponcer nation (FAE = Fuel Air Explosive a few hundred gallons of gas a lot of flue injectors and a parachute they look a lot like nukes when they go off but none of the mess) so far the US has been pretty restrained in it's actions from 9/11 we only went to war with 2 third world nations. Stopping terorism is about finding something they care about and destroying it and thus making the war painfull of
                    • Chicago getting tac nuked by terrorists, reaction woul probably along the lines of FAE carpet bombing the sponcer nation

                      Based on recent experience, our reaction would be to flatten some other nation, preferably one that's hostile to the actual sponsor, in the nearby region.
                    • Stopping terorism is about finding something they care about and destroying it and thus making the war painfull of them as well.

                      No. If you do that, there's going to be an endless line of recruits ready to give their lives in order to kill you in revenge.

                      If you want to stop terrorism, make sure that the potential terrorists have lots to live for - wife, kids, dogs, full stomachs, a comfortable and secure life. Misery feeds fanaticism, especially since you aren't giving up all that much by blowing yours

                  • Holy William F. Gibson novel Batman!
            • "The purpose of terrorism isn't to kill people per-se. It's to scare them into some sort of action."

              This is so true. Look at Osama bin Laden. After 911, the USA took EXACTLY the actions which were his stated aims. I'm still flabberghasted that this worked, and that the population hasn't raised a single question about that. Then again, you would be surprised to find out that transcripts of the OBL tapes are not that easy to find.
          • by patio11 ( 857072 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @02:38AM (#15097715)
            I wrote a research paper on Japanese responses to terrorism a couple of years ago. Here's what I remember from it. No warranty that any of the following is correct but, hey, do you get that warranty from Wiki?

            * The major failure with the attack was the lack of time to develop a good dispersal mechanism, as the attack plan was moved ahead of schedule because of the cult's impression that the authorities were going to act on them imminently. They had this impression on the basis of penetration of Japanese military and police sources. They eventually settled on liquid in bags getting poked with umbrella tips.
            * The "specific targets" at Matsumoto were judicial magistrates whom the cult thought had a hand in the investigation against them. Seven died in that attack, incidentally.
            * Aum was fricking scary with the amount of resources they had at their disposal. I remember a $300 million chemical weapons factory (operating completely above-board in Japan in broad daylight, just another chemical factory, had all its permits), and them staging a parachute raid on a JSDF facility using turncoat JSDF forces. Sounds like a bad anime, I know.

            I wouldn't be sanguine about this. If you can get weapons grade sarin you can certainly develop a delivery system for it. Its not trivial but, hey, $300 million dollars has a certain way of making non-trivial problems seem a whole lot less daunting. We lucked out in a major way, in that with everything designed right for the attack (high-profile target with hundreds of thousands of people in an enclosed space) the cult made multiple errors (impure toxin, dispersal surface area the size of an umbrella puncture, etc) which minimized the casualties. There were other lucky incidents, too -- two Japanese station attendants soaked up the chemical in one car with newspapers, sealed it in plastic, and took it to the station room (I don't know if they had any idea that they were dealing with anything worse than a liquid mess, but both of them died for their troubles, which many people from exposure to that portion of the attack).

            And, incidentally, remember the anthrax attack on the US and how the postal system and much of the East Coast essentially *shut down* with less casualties? Its difficult to overstate how much of the Japanese economy/government/everything is dependent on Tokyo and how dependent Tokyo is on their mass transit system. If you hit one car in Tokyo's inner loop with a lethal nerve agent tomorrow and then followed it up with a successful strike once a week for, oh, I don't know, two weeks? Three? That would be about as effective at causing economic damage in Japan as driving an airplane into a tall building of your choice in New York City.

      • And 12 people were dead.

        A couple of high schoolers [] did better than that, try again.
      • That was due to a chemical, wasn't it? Sarin if I remember right. It wasn't a biological attack.
    • I wouldn't worry about terrorist implications

      Fine. You can stay unworried. Me, I'll worry. (Not to the point of staying up at night or damaging my health, TIA for your concern.)

      Why will I worry? I won't go into details as to how I think it possible - though I do have good reason - but sooner or later someone will be able to replicate haemorhagic smallpox in their garage, and modify it so that current vaccines are useless.

      So go ahead and be as unworried as you'd like. Your life, your decision.
    • Re:worried? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thedletterman ( 926787 ) <> on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:47PM (#15096513) Homepage
      That billion was spent paying scientists, not buying lab equipment. I could likely use my local university chemistry lab to engineer bio weapons.. given the right materials and technical knowledge.
    • That sounds like a problem with the attack vector, not with the material.

      Remeber the first bombing attack against the WTC? It was laughable how badly it was attempted. V 2.0 was 9/11.

      This sort of thing is certainly something to keep an eye on - just because one group managed to fail repeatedly (except for the subway attack) doesn't mean every group will. This stuff is only going to get easier.
      • That sounds like a problem with the attack vector, not with the material.

        Well, yes and no. You are correct that the followers of Bhagwan Rajneesh hit upon a more effective delivery system when they simply sprayed salmonella salad bars. [] But salmonella did not prove sufficiently lethal. Although they infected hundreds and hospitalized 45, nobody died. Antharx, OTOH could not have been deliveed by the same mechanism. There is a balance of deadliness, controlability and deliverability which is difficult to

        • And they had help from the US.

          Of course, it's possible that that "help" was designed to retard their progress. At least, I'd like to hope we're that smart.
    • This is very true. Creating the bio-agent (or chemical agent, or conventional explosive that matter) is EASY. Anthrax practically makes itself. And by practically I mean literally. Anyone can make chlorine gas from bleach and ammonia. Gunpowder synthesis isn't exactly hard. And that nasty peroxide-based stuff that Lebanese terrorists are so fond of? The recipe is frighteningly easy, and requires only two ingredients that are available everywhere at low low prices.

      The hard part is weaponizing them.

      • And that peroxide stuff whose name I can't recall?

        Hydrogen Peroxide. Anything above 70% reacts with itself, and it catalyzes with any sort of organic substance (like oil and rubber). NASA likes it for rockets, and it's good for cleaning wounds at 0.5%. Dunno how to make it, but it can't be that hard - I found a recipe for Astrolite lying around, and that stuff is really interesting. If you really want to cause fatalities, you need look no further than swordfish - C4 + ball bearings hooked up to a proxim

  • by Entropy ( 6967 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:36PM (#15096464)
    He was deputy chief of science opperations at one of the USSR's main bioweapons facilities, and has detailed much of this experience in "Biohazard".

    Frankly, this is the stuff of horror stories.
  • by Dr. Eggman ( 932300 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:39PM (#15096474)
    And that's why I don't go anywhere without my mutated anthrax

    ...for Duck hunting!
  • Move Along (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dteichman2 ( 841599 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:40PM (#15096479) Homepage
    Nothing to see here. Good article, but the point made is fairly worthless. Technology is getting better and cheaper. Why is it suprising that it should extend to the field of biotech? If the dude next door wants to whack you, I don't think that he needs to produce a virus to do it. I'm pretty sure that guns are still more economical and efficient for personal enterprise of this sort.
  • by Dante Shamest ( 813622 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @06:40PM (#15096481)
    GF: Why are they writing about the Soviets in the past tense?
    Me: Er, because they're in the past?
    GF: Huh?
    Me: Um, the Soviet Union collapsed more than a decade ago. Didn't you know that?
    GF: Get out of here! I thought China was still around.
    Me: Honey, the Soviet Union is modern day Russia. Not China.
    GF: What? I thought Soviets were commies, and the Chinese are commies.
    Me: Yes, but the Soviets were Russians.
    GF: The Russians are Chinese?
    Me: No! NO! NOO!
    GF: Jesus. You don't have to yell! I was just asking!
    Me: Alright, alright, I'm sorry.
    GF: So how do the Nazis fit into all this?
    Me: NAZIS!? Are you pulling my leg?
    GF: I'm not!
    Me: ...then I'm leaving you.
    GF: ...

    You can't make this shit up I tell you.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Even an amateur can assimilate an entire army for pennies. Since the collapse of the Star Trek franchise, Borg nanoprobes are being dumped for ridiculously low prices on eBay.
  • You can buy a lot of ex-junkyard dogs for less than $10,000.
  • Relevant Literature (Score:2, Informative)

    by coyotecult ( 647958 )
    Does anyone remember Frank Herbert's book "The White Plague"?
    • Does anyone remember Frank Herbert's book "The White Plague"?

      SPOILER alert

      Yeah, I read that about a month ago. Not one of his best, but compelling. It has some thin psychological premises (pharmaceutical scientist driven mad with grief over the IRA bombing of his family becomes evil genius) and the science is pretty sketchy, even to a lay lumpen like me. Most of the book is taken up by Herbert's typical meditations on power and deception and violence as a way of life, but this time he goes on and on and

  • by Sathias ( 884801 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @07:47PM (#15096736)
    Does this mean that America is going to invade E-bay?
  • by NoMercy ( 105420 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @07:55PM (#15096765)
    How do you fit your tin foil hat... to a HazMat suit?
  • benifit/cost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fermion ( 181285 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @07:57PM (#15096771) Homepage Journal
    Except in the case of truly irrational people, for the purpose of killing people, history tells us that the simplest tool will be used, and complexity is only introduced to minimize risk. For example, any crazy can go into a crowded place and kill several people prior to succumbing to the same fate. Likewise, a person may plant a conventional bomb and do significant damage. Certainly we have seen few cases where 'mass destruction' is caused by the use of biological agent by non-governmental foces. Even the Anthrax in the mail scare caused no more damagae than the unibomber, and that anthrax may have been top grade US governement.

    So here is the rub. One not only has to have the equipment and expertise to create the biowepon. One also needs a way to infect people in lethal doses. And, to begin with, one needs to believe the bioagent will be more effecient than conventional weapons. Look at it this way. The allies probably did more damage in Dresden using conventional weapons that in Japan using nukes. However, the Japan attack was much more effecient, posed almost no risk to the Allies, had no real defense, and was not limited by the logistics of flying many planes. For a bioagent to be preferable, it must be like a nuke. If Bush is to believed the Iraqis have a bunch of biological agents, yet we see bombs are used more. Perhpas the Iragis to have WMDs, and bombs are just so much more effecient and dramatic. I mean proving to the US forces that defending against IEDs is hopeless to so mouch more dramatic than simply killing everyone in the green zone with lead poisoning, for instance.

    This seems like another fear mongering article planted to create an impression that certain not-so-dangerous things are critical, so that the complex really dangerous things can be ignored. It just shows a true lack of imagination. I tink in most cases the villians just want the drama. That is why they blow up the building after it is evacated, instead of blowing up the location to which the people are evacuated to.

    • Even the Anthrax in the mail scare caused no more damagae than the unibomber, and that anthrax may have been top grade US governement

      Indeed. Not to get all tin-foil-hat about it, but what was the deal there? Why was (what appeared to be) the US government's anthrax being mailed to people in the months after 9/11? And why did the government investigations of it turn up absolutely nothing? Seems awfully fishy to me.... like perhaps it was part of a "psy-ops" operation to scare the public into supporting a

  • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) * on Sunday April 09, 2006 @08:35PM (#15096869) Homepage Journal
    The threat from modern DNA synthesizers isn't the real threat. Those synthesizers do automate the process of DNA synthesis. However, the Russian bioweapons program did the same thing a long time before by just throwing more technicians at the problem. Using nothing but hard working but low-skilled lab techs with primitive equipment they were able to engineer bacteria that stimulated the immune system of victims to attack their own nervous system. This could create autoimmune diseases -- a very broad range of diseases including multiple sclerosis and possibly even autism [].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There a MANY people interested in science that simply cannot afford the tools to pursue it.
    Cheap scientific tools means more tools in the hands of science tinkerers.
    The more science tinkerers, means more interest, innovation, and new businesses in science.

    If science tinkerers with affordable tools can get an open-science movement going (like programers have done with open-source), then we have a very bright future ahead of us.

    FUD, like the mentioned article, are simply words of someone
  • Popov? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Ajaxamander ( 646536 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @10:32PM (#15097187) Homepage
    A soviet bioweaponeer? NOW I get why the lower-shelf vodka of same name is so toxic.
  • by LotTS ( 967274 ) on Sunday April 09, 2006 @11:03PM (#15097249) Homepage
    This is the classic dilemma regarding responsibilities with the impact on humanity from scientific advancements. Who has it now? Who should have it?

    In the classic days of Leonardo da Vinci, the Renaissance Man was the master of everything and was on top of many topics of interest. However, many modern achievements have been realized through specialists - science, engineering, agriculture, arts, etc... It would not be fair for a world-class scientist to be responsible for establishing the policy guidelines of a new technology. Their main concern is and should be to advance the frontiers of science - their opinions should carry weight regarding policy, but in general they are not adept with such responsibilities.

    In the absence of an appropriate entity with this responsibility, the lack of oversight may lead to unwanted outcomes. Einstein's revelations made the atomic bomb feasible, yet afterwards Einstein was one of the biggest opponents of nuclear arms. As someone who is in biotechnology, I know that we may have social responsibility on the back of our minds, but in the forefront is finding that discovery before someone else in our field finds it first!

  • by schwag monkey ( 187649 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @12:17AM (#15097407)
    Bill Joy's well-known article "Why the Future Doesn't Need Us" predicted this like 6 years ago: html []

    The big quesiton is: why aren't the intelligent, well-educated, technically minded of the world actually taking issues like this seriously, and doing something about it? Probably because thinking about this stuff means questioning one's own vocation and existence, and perhaps discovering that the blind pursuit of scientific knowledge or development of technology can have just as many unintended bad consequences as good ones. We can't stop these pursuits; nor should we. But all who are involved in these pursuits must also assume responsibility for analyzing the risks of their application.

    Bill Joy called for a "Hippocratic Oath" of sorts for scientists and technologists to take responsibility for the ethical concerns as well as the scientific or technological or design concerns. We already know how to assess some forms of risk. These are just different kinds of risks to be assessed, and they are real.

    If we are as good and as smart as we think we are, how can we not step up?
    • by Shihar ( 153932 ) on Monday April 10, 2006 @01:11AM (#15097520)
      You can't stop science.

      This isn't like a video game where you need to go down the 'horrible biological weapons' research tree in order to get horrible biological weapons. The same technology that lets you engineer a crop that can end world hunger or create new organs from scratch is the same path that leads to horrible weapons. You can't simply pick the good over the bad. By advancing forward you WILL uncover the bad and make available the tools to do terrible things. The only option you have left is to either grind to a technological standstill or simply do your best to fend off dangers as they come.

      The only way to stop technology is to put in place a world wide totalitarian government that ruthlessly enforces 'sustainable' living and the freeze of technology. By "sustainable", I don't mean the crunchy American tree hugger version that involves eating a lot of soy and riding a bike while still enjoying central heating and electricity. I mean brutal Maoist style raw utilitarianism that merrily sheds lives in favor of the higher goal of a "sustainable" society out our present technology level.

      This of course is an utter impossibility. Our system is like a shark. It moves forward or we all die. No little tweaks on society is going to make it so that we can maintain this state of technology forever. We will run out of resources and technology will either have an answer waiting or everything collapses.

      The only answer is to cross your fingers and hope to hell that a Kurzweil utopia is right around the corner. The best thing we can do now is try and build defense when it is possible and blindly sprint forward hoping to hell that somewhere along the way an answer jumps out before something terrible happens.
    • why aren't the intelligent, well-educated, technically minded of the world actually taking issues like this seriously, and doing something about it?

      I think of two reasons when asked this question:
      1) I have to spend, minimum 8+ years doing focused study in one area of knowledge just to get to the fringes of the body of knowledge in which I will be developing technology in.
      2) I have to take all of those 8 years of knowledge condense it into a catch phrase of 2-10 words which explains the problem to people not
  • Instead of trying to build newer and bigger weapons of destruction, we should be thinking about getting more use out of the ones we already have. - Jack Handey
    Also attributed to Commedian Emo Phillips

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!