Fighting many of viruses is known to be difficult. We still have not vaccine from HIV.
Yeah, that’s very true. But in the future, I think that we’re going to get to a point where we figure out how to the new tools of biotechnology to deal with viruses in a more direct way.
For example, there was some interesting research a few months ago about using CRISPR to remove HIV from live mice, by carefully snipping out the HIV DNA from infected cells directly.
I’m not sure if that specific research will turn out to be significant or not, but in the long run, I think that biotech research is going to give us many new tools to deal with both viruses and bacteria in general, and that those will also be effective against bio-weapons.
But what about using CRISPR for new types of bioweapons? It is all the problem of the sword and shild race.
Sure, that’s true. It’s hard to say for sure, but like I said, if overall research on how to treat viruses and diseases gets more resources then bioweapons research, it should be able to pull ahead, I would think. I think we are likely eventually get to a point where new diseases just aren’t that much of an issue because they get picked up and dealt with quickly, or because we have special engineered defenses against them built into our bodies, ect, and then it wouldn’t matter if they’re natural mutations or genetic engineered diseases.
I think there’s a bigger threat of someone recreating smallpox or Spanish influenza or something in their basement before we get to that point, and that could be catastrophic if we don’t have the tools to deal with it yet, but that’s not actually an existential threat, although it could kill millions. Creating a truly novel disease that would be both contagious and fatal enough to actually be an existential threat, it seems to me, would be a much more difficult challenge; not that it’s impossible, but I don’t see someone doing it with a “CRISPR at home” set in his basement anytime soon.
I think that the real existential threat is something which could be described by one word: multipandemic.
That is many simultaneous deadly pandemics, may be organised artificially or because of quick growth of the number of bioterrorists and availability of synthetic biology. I wrote an article about it, but it needs major revision.
Hmm. I could see that being a serious threat, at least a potentially civilization-ending one.
Again though, would you agree that the best way to reduce the risk of this threat is biotech research itself?
I would say that the best protection is as quickly as possible to jump on the higher level, like the creation of nanotech and benevolent AI. But they have their own risks.
It may also apply to biotech research, if protection measures will grow quickly.