Thursday, December 25, 2008

Can't come to work - I've caught "I Love You" virus...

Not sure if this find should go in here or the Zencookbook blog - but decided after a bit of head-scratching that it belongs here.  Yes, there's all kinds of threats to the environment, but there's also all kinds of benefits if one of these biohackers pulls off a particularly imaginative hack.

More interesting to me is how more and more technology is being lateralised, made available to anyone.  As far as I can see, this is the way it's meant to be and has been for millenia.  Telescopes weren't sequestered away and kept for "astonomers," what happened was that people made themselves telescopes, used them, and then called themselves astronomers.

Similarly, the largest and earliest impetuses in each field have come not from some enclave of "official" scientists working under some kind of "official" sanction - they've come from the people who thought to themselves "hey - I can do that!" and then did.  Charles Darwin was a minister's son and only became recognised for his work on evolutionary adaptation AFTER he did the work.  Leeuwenhoek didn't study optics - there was no official curriculum in optics at that stage - he created advances in the field and helped to formalise it as the field of optics, and he used what he created to make advances in microbiology, which is the thing he is more famous for.  All without a formal "official" education beyond basic schooling...

Some of our best advances in programming and electronic communication have come not from the "official" Internet Engineering Task Force and their directed research but from home hobbyists and self-confessed computer geeks and hackers.  We wouldn't have effortless web browsing today if not for individual efforts and ideas developed by individuals and small groups of "non-official" computer geeks.

All right - I mentioned "hackers" back there.  By now, a few of you will be backing up and going "ooh!  He said 'hackers,' he did!" and you'd be right to stop there.  The dangers of some dickhead producing a real-life "virus" in a meth-lab-like basement laboratory is real and present.  I wouldn't be surprised at all to see one coming out in 2009.  But also note that just as we had hackers, so we also have security minded people, who developed "antidotes" to the malware.

And while it looks like the spammers are winning, remember that there's a financial advantage to taking over computers and hacking - there is little financial advantage to killing the world's population.  Also, believe me when I say that anything, the most horrific things, that you can imagine are already being tried and tested in labs that hide behind barbed wire in underground bunkers, in countries all over the world...  Having as many facilities out there as possible in the public domain represents our best chance of someone with the knowledge and facilities to develop antidotes remaining alive out there...

Also - notice how computers and the Internet, which not so long ago were the esoteric realm of a relative few hobbyists and professionals, have now become everyday technology and in fact this is the enabling force behind the biohacking hobby now springing up.  Looking at the timeframe that led from physics and electricity as "official" fields, to electronics, communications, and then computers and Internet, you can see that once the knowledge was easily disseminated (via BBS's and early Internet) how exponentially the body of knowledge and achievements grew.  Now bear in mind that biology and modern allopathic medicine have been around for about the same amount of time, and huge amounts of information are coming online even as you read this.

So - don't waste your time trying to preserve "official ivory tower" desmesnes for the field, and instead start planning task forces and security forces to keep abreast of this new tsunami of biological innovations.  Haven't we learned anything from the progression from Brain virus to zombie farms?

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