Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Bill Gates of Aritifical Life

Or the Man Who Would Be the Oil King. Take your pick. Meet the man who wants to be the Bill Gates of "artificial life", who is developing organisms that promise to make ethanol out of cellulose -- Craig Venter. "But this is about much more than any particular technology, or even the energy business as a whole ... artificial life ... has huge ethical and legal implications. Arthur L. Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, tells BusinessWeek that synthetic biologists may be 'manipulating nature without knowing where they are going.... There are arrogant scientists, and our friend Venter may be one of them.'"

The post The Big, Big Picture featured a series of predictions from well-known intellectuals about which would be the "next big thing" of the 21st century. My own response was:

The Next Big Thing hasn't happened yet. But given a century in prospect there are significant odds that some contingent event, discovery or emergent technology will organize or divide us in ways we do not yet suspect. "Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."

You never know what you're gonna get. But as the years roll forward, we will. We will.

Nothing follows.

7 Comments:

Blogger slimslowslider said...

RW Johnson, political writer -- "The fact that the birth rate of the Muslim world is significantly higher than anyone else’s will inevitably increase the power of the world’s last great anti-democratic ideology, which is also likely to replace Marxism as the ideology of the third world. At the same time, the rapid rise of China will gradually restore the old bipolar balance of the cold war period. The democratic states are likely to find themselves thrown on the defensive to a degree not seen since the 1930s, and, for the first time, they will become unsure as to whether they really represent the wave of the future."

this one's a good bet. I also like the internet diarist one.

6/29/2007 05:31:00 AM  
Blogger buck smith said...

This is about time to sell those oil stocks, I reckon. Let's hope $40 oil will take a little wind out of the jihadi sails.

6/29/2007 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

""The fact that the birth rate of the Muslim world is significantly higher than anyone else’s will inevitably increase the power of the world’s last great anti-democratic ideology, which is also likely to replace Marxism as the ideology of the third world."

Only until the Muslims learn of Baha'u'llah, the Glory of God, and turn toward Him and away from mullahs and imams.

Humankind's coming encounter with Baha'u'llah is not going to disappear or cease being catalytical just because some humans are uncomfortable with Him.

6/29/2007 08:06:00 AM  
Blogger Karridine said...

Buck Smith: and lets hope that gent who burns salt-water will let his invention/discovery provide humankind with small, cheap self-energizing power cells that end the need for oil EXCEPT as lubricant and feedstock for plastics!

6/29/2007 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

One thing we do know – is that those who view such technological developments with alarm are always wrong.

When blood transfusions were developed, the technology was decried as that which would allow the elderly and rich to live at the expense of the poor and young. And sure enough, there are those who will go sell a pint of their blood to make a few bucks, but I don’t think anyone today would wish to do away with blood transfusions.

Ever hear the details of how the inoculation for rabies was developed? Imagine the people of that time hearing that some arrogant scientist was mincing up the brains and spines of dogs infected with a horrid disease and injecting the result into people. Sounds gruesome to us, and they must have been ready to light the torches and storm Dr. Frankenstine’s castle.

Arthur C. Caplan should do as I have and spend a weekend working at a Special Olympics. Look at those brave kids trying so desperately to do things that their bodies won’t let them – and then decide that arrogant scientists must be stopped.

6/29/2007 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger LarryD said...

The birth rate of the Muslim World is higher than anyone else's, but it's dropping fast.

Islam cannot survive the transition from 17th century Traditional society to Modern life, this is exactly why the Islamists see themselves at war with modernity itself.

6/29/2007 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

Actually, the recent Science News says that DMF is the green fuel of the future. It has the same energy density as gasoline and can apparently be produced more effectively and efficiently from sugar based inputs.

I'm hoping for the hydrogen from aluminum approach to work out, which is really a way to use nuclear power in your car.

6/30/2007 05:25:00 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home


Powered by Blogger