Gene Editing Is Now Cheap and Easy—and No One Is Prepared for the Consequences

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In April 2015, a paper by Chinese scientists about their attempts to edit the DNA of a human embryo rocked the scientific world and set off a furious debate. Leading scientists warned that altering the human germ line without studying the consequences could have horrific consequences. Geneticists with good intentions could mistakenly engineer changes in DNA that generate dangerous mutations and cause painful deaths. Scientists — and countries — with less noble intentions could again try to build a race of superhumans.

Human DNA is, however, merely one of many commercial targets of ethical concern. The DNA of every single organism — every plant, every animal, every bacterium — is now fair game for genetic manipulation. We are entering an age of backyard synthetic biology that should worry everybody. And it is coming about because of CRISPRs: clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats.

Discovered by scientists only a few years ago, CRISPRs are elements of an ancient system that protects bacteria and other single-celled organisms from viruses, acquiring immunity to them by incorporating genetic elements from the virus invaders. CRISPRs evolved over millions of years to trim pieces of genetic information from one genome and insert it into another. And this bacterial antiviral defense serves as an astonishingly cheap, simple, elegant way to quickly edit the DNA of any organism in the lab.

Until recently, editing DNA required sophisticated labs, years of experience, and many thousands of dollars. The use of CRISPRs has changed all that. CRISPRs work by using an enzyme — Cas9 — that homes in on a specific location in a strand of DNA. The process then edits the DNA to either remove unwanted sequences or insert payload sequences. CRISPRs use an RNA molecule as a guide to the DNA target.  To set up a CRISPR editing capability, a lab only needs to order an RNA fragment (costing about $10) and purchase off-the-shelf chemicals and enzymes for $30 or less.

Because CRISPR is cheap and easy to use, it has both revolutionized and democratized genetic research. Hundreds, if not thousands, of labs are now experimenting with CRISPR-based editing projects. A race is on between the major research institutions to file CRISPR-technique patents. Research dollars, both public and private, are pouring into CRISPR projects. Meanwhile, a panoply of leading geneticists — including one of the developers of the CRISPR technology — has urged for a moratorium on alterations to the human germ line until the implications of messing with human DNA are further studied and safeguards put in place.

Changing human DNA creates, for scientists and humanity, a frightening ethical grey zone. On the one hand, for the many millions of poor souls suffering from diseases arising from genetic defects, CRISPR and the research it fuels could mean finding a cure for their problem in their lifetimes. On the other hand, changing the human germ line is incredibly risky without much better knowledge of how our DNA actually works.

Though scientists now commonly sequence human DNA, they still struggle to understand how the different pieces of the human genome work together. For example, until recently, scientists thought that much of our genetic material was useless and served no purpose. They called it “junk” DNA. In a previous era, they might have considered editing the junk out of our genes.

Now, research is emerging showing that junk DNA plays a key role in regulating genetic expression (effectively turning various genes on and off), regulation that is fundamental to the biological processes that govern our bodies and our endocrine systems. What if a well-intentioned researcher develops a cure for one of these diseases and shares it with thousands of sufferers before realizing that the cure is far worse than the disease and that the side effects are painful — or even deadly — and easily spread from person to person?

Such a scenario could arise through good intent. But in the hands of evil biohackers, these powerful and simple tools are a cause for alarm. A smart biohacker could alter the influenza genome, for example, to make it more potent, setting off an epidemic that kills hundreds of millions of people.  Though a nuclear weapon can cause tremendous long-lasting damage, the ultimate biological doomsday machine is bacteria, because they can spread so quickly and quietly.

No one is prepared for an era when editing DNA is as easy as editing a Microsoft Word document. The government does not have any regulations on editing human DNA. The ethical concerns have not been fleshed out. There is no centralized risk-management inventory, listing which labs are doing what with CRISPR. It’s all rather terrifying.

Rarely do I argue that a moratorium on technological progress is the prudent course. But the stakes in the case of CRISPR are so high that I believe a blanket moratorium is the only course. Yes, rogue scientists may nonetheless continue working at modifications on the human germ line; and that could endow them with a first-mover advantage and unfair knowledge. But such a moratorium could be as effective as the global moratorium on the cloning of humans has been: at the least, scientists such as those who engineered the human embryos in China would become international pariahs rather than being celebrated for publishing papers in prestigious publications.

Image Credit:

Vivek Wadhwa

Vivek Wadhwa is a fellow at Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, director of research at Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization at Duke, and distinguished fellow at Singularity University.

His past appointments include Harvard Law School, University of California Berkeley, and Emory University. Follow him on Twitter @wadhwa.

Discussion — 61 Responses

  • rtryon September 8, 2015 on 1:26 pm

    I have said it out loud a few times and now it is time to write it! If there is no God, this is the time to recognize the need to invent one! For me, of course, having been born 83 years ago, it is not uncommon to say that early on I came to know that everyone knows that all that exists, in past, present and future, belongs to God! Failure to pay attention to this fact is to risk “God’s wrath”- a result far worse than anything ever known to all, for its a sentence that hurts forever!

    Now we live in an era with freedom to decide, as God really wanted, for us to use our free-will to decide that the above statement was wrong….but still essential to our connection, and as a result all other plant and animal species relationships are spared being victim of our willingness to take even the first step in correcting apparent genetic accidents that we think are unproductive or in need of repair.

    God may have thousands of universes and countless back-ups to our little corner, but that is no reason for any specie to use its special abilities to destroy this globe and all animate and inanimate parts by using any super powerful technology.

    Yes, I trust in God wanting to always know that his designs are incapable of undoing his total masterful output; but, the time is fast approaching when just when our species is so dominant, it may also have reached the point of self destruction.

    We must all pray in our own way that this kind of armageddon is not allowed to happen for the next few millenniums at least! But, I have not answered the question of helping those in need. We may have to come to the point that Jesus sometimes employed to teach all by curing a few that seemed so impossible at the time, and let some forms of controlled experiment happen.

    • Mike Taylor rtryon September 8, 2016 on 1:59 pm

      Isn’t it funny, those who claim to know the most, end up talking the least sense.
      You’re a prime example of that.

  • Alexey Turchin September 8, 2015 on 2:10 pm

    Ok, it is CRISPR that will kill of all us. Remember about the idea of “multipandemic”, that is creation hundreds different pathogens simultaniously? CRISPR will make it possible for 40 USD.

  • MarkMcCoskey September 8, 2015 on 2:32 pm

    I nearly died last year because I have a genetic mutation, a gift from both parents, called Hemochromatosis. Unbeknownst to me, my iron had become astronomically high and was killing my heart and liver. I’ve given weekly phlebotomies of 450 ml for the past 1.5 years, and I’m still not down to a good normal as yet. I wouldn’t mind having this mutation editted out of my body.

  • dobermanmacleod September 8, 2015 on 10:31 pm

    Richard Danzig, a former Navy secretary and now a biowarfare consultant to the Pentagon, said that while there are 1,000 to 10,000 “weaponeers” worldwide with experience working on biological arms, there are more than 1 million and perhaps many millions of “broadly skilled” scientists who, while lacking training in that narrow field, could construct bioweapons. “It seems likely that, over a period between a few months and a few years, broadly skilled individuals equipped with modest laboratory equipment can develop biological weapons,” Danzig said. “Only a thin wall of terrorist ignorance and inexperience now protects us.” –Washington Post, December 29, 2004

    This letter to you is like the letter Dr. Albert Einstein wrote United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt on August 2, 1939.

    Dr. Einstein wrote, “…it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large quantity of uranium…,” and “…it is conceivable…that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed.”
    This letter is to inform you that it is possible to set up a biological chain reaction with a highly contagious construct virus, and it is conceivable that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed by individuals.

    Nuclear blindness is the mistaken belief that the bigger the bang, the more powerful the weapon. A highly contagious construct virus is a bomb that keeps exploding through the population at a geometric rate.

    “A virus that has been engineered in the laboratory is called a recombinant virus. This is because its genetic material-DNA or RNA-has genes in it that come from other forms of life. These foreign genes have been inserted into the virus’s genetic material through the process of recombination. The term construct is also used to describe it, because the virus is constructed of parts and pieces of genetic code-it is a designer virus, with a particular purpose.” -The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston, 2002, page 220

    “In truth, it is possible to imagine a malicious use for virtually any biological research or production site. The difference between a lab for producing lifesaving vaccines and one capable of making deadly toxins is largely one of intent.” -“Terrorism and the Biology Lab” by Henry C. Kelly, New York Times, July 2, 2003

    I estimate it is over ten times easier to construct a highly contagious virus than it is to enrich uranium using the gas centrifuge method.

    I estimate it is over ten times easier to set up a biological chain reaction with a highly contagious virus than it is to set up a nuclear chain reaction with a sufficient quantity of enriched uranium.

    I estimate it is over ten times easier for a terrorist to deliver a highly contagious virus than a nuclear bomb. A virus can be easily smuggled because it is small and nonmetallic, and can be used as seed stock to make an unlimited number of bombs.

    I estimate there are over one million people with the technical knowledge and access to the necessary lab equipment to construct a highly contagious virus. That number is growing.

    “The main thing that stands between the human species and the creation of a supervirus is a sense of responsibility among individual biologists.” -The Demon in the Freeze, page 227

    “The National Intelligence Council, the CIA’s in-house think tank, warned in a report (Mapping the Global Future) that terrorists were more likely to obtain and use pathogens and pestilence than nuclear weapons to cause mass casualties in the next 15 years. The council based its assessment on dramatic advances in genetic research and biotechnology, the availability of scientific information and supplies on the Internet, and the emergence of sophisticated terrorist “groups, cells and individuals” who may be “particularly suited” to brewing lethal germs at home. “Indeed, the bioterrorist’s laboratory could well be the size of a household kitchen, and the weapon built there could be smaller than a toaster,” the council wrote. “Terrorist use of biological agents is therefore likely, and the range of options will grow.”” –Los Angeles Times, January 17, 2005

    • Quantium dobermanmacleod September 9, 2015 on 9:37 am

      There is no defence against a faith based self sacrificing terrorist doing it on behalf of his god, but anyone else would surely exterminate his own people as well as the enemy.

      The futility of nuclear war must have become apparent to so many more people with the Chernobyl accident. Letting off bombs in the same place would have produced far more damage to the west.

  • Quantium September 9, 2015 on 12:02 am

    It might be worth considering

    As with any invention, once something has been discovered, it is impossible to ban it. Consider explosives. It is much better to have it out in the open and at least some attempt can be made to manage it properly, without over control.

    I can recall where all private radio transmissions were considered terribly dangerous to civilisation as a whole and had to be heavily regulated. The present plethora of wireless devices would have overworked the legal profession beyond their wildest dreams.

    As ever, there are problems and benefits. Think of all the lives that would have been saved if the car and aeroplane had not been invented.

  • Horst G Ludwig September 9, 2015 on 2:19 am

    It is always about the same old question if humanity is mature enough to handle critical issues. Lets not put our heads into religious nor political sand here because it will come more good out of it than harm. There is nothing to stop the curious mind of humanity and thats a good thing within. Confusing this all the time with the ocasional abusers is not thinking well.

  • SweetDoug September 9, 2015 on 4:27 am

    Maybe this technology, robotics, or some other invention, is the reason why the universe is so silent?

    Maybe, this silence, is because most races out there, have never make it out of their crib, out of the their planetary petri dish, extinguished by their own hand?


  • John Ringo September 9, 2015 on 4:55 am

    Sorry to toot my own horn, but not only did I write an essay about this exact issue (The Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse) I used that basis for a bestselling four book series. (Under a Graveyard Sky et al). Building a nuke is hard. Building a virus is easier and easier every day. When a bright 17 year old can end the world because he’s mad at a girl we are screwed.

  • Trevor Rose September 9, 2015 on 6:25 am

    I think the really sad thing is that clearly so many otherwise intelligent people are so utterly insecure to the point of being psychologically disturbed, that they’re obsessed with genetic change before they’ve even begun to discover what they can do with whatever they’ve already got … and so much so, they’re willing to risk everyone & everything to pursue an answer to that insecurity instead of just having the courage to face it.

  • genidma September 9, 2015 on 7:21 am


    Are you calling for a blanket moratorium on CRISPR period or only for the human germ-line?

  • genidma September 9, 2015 on 8:51 am

    My knowledge of genetics is almost non-existent and I don’t necessarily have an opinion on the topic of modifying the ‘human germ-line’ (yet).

    That being said, we need to be objective when it comes to the definition of the problem.

    1. Vivek, your article started with the mention of a research paper released by ‘Junjiu Huang’. Huang, is a gene-function researcher at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou.
    2. To quote from the Nature magazine, Huang used ‘non-viable’ embryos, which cannot result in a live birth, that were obtained from local fertility clinics. Source: More details have been shared below.
    3. Vivek, the very second line of your article suggests that quote ‘Leading scientists warned that altering the human germ line without studying the consequences could have horrific consequences’. But the truth is that leading bioethicists like Chris Gyngell and Julian Savulescu (from Oxford University) have come out in defence of the research that Huang has conducted. Here is the proof. and
    4. In their defence of Huang, these bioethicists are also objective when it comes to the risks that the CRISPR technique could pose.

    By sharing the information mentioned in these comments, I am not suggesting that you have not been objective in your assessment of these developments. I am just trying to point out that there is a group of scientists and bioethicists who have indeed come out in favour of the need for leveraging developments like CRISPR and why it ought to be done.

    To quote from the following blogpost by Chris Gyngell and Julian Savulescu (link has also been shared above).

    On the potential:

    “This research is significant and important. Gene editing techniques like CRISPR could one day provide therapeutic cures to genetic diseases, and indeed completely eradicate diseases like Tay-Sachs, Huntington’s disease, and cystic fibrosis from our populations.”

    On the risks:

    “…. there are significant risks associated with this type of research. Most significantly CRISPR could make off-target modifications in embryonic DNA and hence cause widespread damage to the genome. This could cause significant defects and disabilities in any individuals born as the result of the research. Because of these risks, it would be highly unethical to bring embryos to term who had been experimented on with current gene editing methods. The risk posed would simply not be justified by any potential benefit”

    On the distinction and about using non-viable embryos:

    “However this study by Huang and co-authors was not conducted in any embryos that were ever going to be born, or indeed even had the potential to be born. They trialled the CRISPR system in tri-pronuclear embryos – embryos that have a whole extra set of chromosomes. These embryos are not viable, and are normally spontaneously aborted early in pregnancy. These embryos were not created for this purpose, but were rather excess embryos created through IVF, and would otherwise have been destroyed. Trialling the CRISPR system in these embryos had no chance of resulting in a live birth. It is unclear how the study could harm or wrong anyone directly. Furthermore, this research is important precisely because it increases our understanding about some of the risks involved in targeting humans with current gene editing techniques. One of the stated aims of the research was to determine the frequency of off-target effects when CRISPR is used in human embryos. This type of research is important for increasing our understanding of the types of challenges involved in developing clinically useful methods of gene editing.”

    The remainder of the blogpost, published in April 2015, focuses on the questioning revolving around why journals like Nature and Science originally denied the publication of the research that Huang had conducted and Gyngell and Savulescu coming to Huang’s defence. So this blogpost was very specific when it comes to coming to the defence of Huang and with the research that Huang conducted on

    Earlier in March 2015, there was another blogpost published by Gyngell, Savulescu and another individual (last name Douglas – identity unknown). The title of this blogpost is ‘Editing the gremlin – a time for reason, not emotion’.
    Here’s a link (also shared above). This blogpost is a broader debate on the nature and scope of editing human germ-line.

    This blogpost begins with the review of the analysis presented by leading periodicals like Nature and Science magazine when it comes to the editing the human germ-line.

    In defence of the editing the human germ-line and contrary to what the periodicals had shared, Gyngell, Douglas, Savulescu suggest (quote):

    “We should resist making any knee-jerk reactions or judgements. Both the Nature and Science commentaries do just this, and fail to provide a good starting point for an informed discussion about the ethics of germline editing. Both advocate for clear actions but neither justify these actions by clear reasoning.”

    Then the authors explain their reasoning, by analyzing and deconstructing the analysis shared by the periodicals.

    Then the authors mention other developments that could have caused harm, but didn’t. But they were objective in their assessment that the long term use of such techniques is still an unknown. But it doesn’t warrant that there should be a blanket moratorium. Example used in this context: Quote:

    “Another example is IVF and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). PGD requires removing two cells from the 8 cell embryo. It excises 1/4 of the embryo. This could have been much more devastating than gene editing yet it has been proven to be safe. Nevertheless, when introduced it was certainly unpredictable what the effects would be for future generations.”

    Next, the author(s) make the case of ‘Just because a technology can be used for non-therapeutic uses, does not mean that a moratorium should be issued on it’s use. Quote:

    “Similarly many new technologies are non-therapeutic but this rarely warrants a moratorium on their use. While many medical technologies are only approved for use in a therapeutic setting, the mere fact that a technology could be used non-therapeutically does not justify placing broad restrictions on it. Lasik eye surgery can be used non-therapeutically, but this doesn’t justify restrictions on its therapeutic uses.”

    These bio-ethicists question why quote:

    “why germline editing deserves to be treated specially. Why do general concerns about this technology warrant such extraordinary disapproval, while the same concerns in other technologies are ignored?”

    The authors continue to systematically deconstruct the issues raised in the various publications in the two magazines cited above.

    This is what the authors suggest next, some of the authors of these very publications in the periodicals are founders of or CEO, or senior executives in companies involved in gene editing on somatic cells: Quote:

    “Another feature shared by both commentaries is that some of the authors of each piece are founders, CEOs or senior executives of private companies involved in gene editing on somatic cells. Unlike modification to germ cells, modifications in somatic cells are not heritable. These companies would likely be devastated by any broad restrictions on gene editing. This means the authors have skin in the game – they might be personally benefited by bans on germline modification if this development made restrictions on somatic editing less likely.”

    The authors continue:
    “even if these authors have valid concerns about unreasonable restrictions on somatic editing, creating emotive panic about germline editing is a poor response”

    On blanket moratoriums:
    “Our central point in this blog is that all of the concerns that have so far been expressed in relation to germline editing are concerns for any new technology. Research ethics processes exist to ensure the protection of human participants in such research. There is already a moratorium on, and discouragement of, unsafe research. Beyond safety, no good reasons for restricting germline editing research have been identified. Many accepted technologies are non-therapeutic and have unpredictable effects.”

    On gene editing:

    “Gene editing is a revolutionary technology, which potentially offers the next generation an enormous range of benefits. It is important that bad arguments, empty rhetoric and personal interests do not cloud rational thinking and deny the next generation the enormous benefits on offer. It is a time for reason, not emotion.”

    Once again, here is a link to the blog-post:

    • genidma genidma September 9, 2015 on 8:54 am


      ‘Editing the germ-line’

      My word processor (Pages) decided to do an autocorrect.

      • genidma genidma September 13, 2015 on 10:00 am

        No. It wasn’t the autocorrect. I did a visual scan before reading and I missed that typo. The autocorrect did not function as expected.

  • Amano Khambata September 9, 2015 on 8:55 am

    I’m wondering about a couple of things..
    > Is it possible to sequence the human genome to be environmentally responsible and to sequence out violence and stupidity ?
    > Can we grow food like apples and corn with enhanced THC levals ..
    ( I am not trying to be facetious / Any and all clarification is most welcome )

    • genidma Amano Khambata September 9, 2015 on 10:46 am

      1. For the first part of your question, if you meant if genes influence behaviour. Then research that Craig Venter has looked into suggests that it does: More from Craig Venter here .

      The way I understand what Craig is saying is that the concept of ‘Tabula rasa’ is a myth. Although he does not use that term. Mr. Venter, however, is not suggesting, that the environment *does not* make a difference. Environment does play a role.

      2. I’ll let someone else answer the second part of your question. THC is not a subject I know much about. Sorry.

  • Nate Herrell September 9, 2015 on 9:34 am

    The question “what if CRISPR hurts someone” should be weighed against the hundreds of thousands of people who are hurt every day for lack of the therapies it could provide. The precautionary principle can often be more harmful than whatever alternative it seeks to prevent. Especially considering that CRISPR has the potential to do things like ward of impending sustainability crises.

    • Quantium Nate Herrell September 9, 2015 on 9:54 am

      This is a very good point. Not considering it is playing into the hands of faith based terrorists self sacrificing because they believe that their god likes people suffering, or requires people to suffer as punishment.

  • genidma September 9, 2015 on 9:34 am

    We should seriously think about becoming a transparent society.

    We cannot continue issues moratoriums towards the development of newer sciences and technologies and impede our evolution and risk our existence in the process of doing so.

  • genidma September 9, 2015 on 10:28 am

    The first time I heard of CRISPR was in April this year, when a news item regarding this development surfaced on reddit’s front page.

    My immediate thoughts related to this tech are:
    1. In a future sense, developments in this domain, could help my friend’s daughter and many others like her, who suffers from rare genetic disorder. My friend’s daughter suffers from the Prader–Willi syndrome, a condition. More information here on my friend’s blog Also, here is a reddit ama that Jack did in order to raise awareness about this condition:
    2. In combination with other developments, CRISPR could help us grow food for 9 billion people by significantly improving crop yields.
    3. I don’t know how we are going to make life interplanetary, without the means and mechanisms of taking control over our evolution. An advanced version of CRISPR without any of the side-effects would allow us to do just that. To get to that level, the imperative to be able to invest in the development of such a science appears pretty clear to me.

    These three (collectively and individually), would be reason enough for me to see the continual advancements in this area.

    But as I continue looking more into this tech, I can see that there is a broad range of areas and industries that can benefit from advancement that are to be made using this development.

    – Biotechnology
    – Food and agriculture: Development of strains and organisms of interest for the agriculture industry.
    – Translation of medicine and the genesis of disease (model system) for human application. In addition to gene therapy and to correct flawed and/or missing genes in human cells. (shared above).

    Blanket moratoriums and science budget cuts is not what we need.

    We need to start asking ourselves:
    – What is it that we value in society?
    – Do we value human lives on a global basis? If so, what are we doing to ensure that we can continue to sustain and develop and ever-growing human population without wrecking the planet.
    – Where are we spending the money today and why? We need a serious conversation about the Science budget cuts all over the Western civilization. Why is it that we cannot hold our Governments accountable in free and fair Democracies.
    – We need to start asking the hard questions of, if not Science and Technologies then what will help us overcome the risks coming our way. From climate change, to rising extremism, to resource shortages of all types the list is long.
    – Will cosmic events like solar flares, threat of an asteroid attack or some other interstellar event actually wait for humans to make up their minds about the kind of events that threaten our existence. 100% of the evidence collected to date, points to the fact that all extinction events occurred due to some cosmic event (Chicxulub and mass extinction) or due to climate change

    We ignore all the risks and also the opportunities staring us in the faces.

    We refer to ourselves as an intelligent species and we issue moratoriums!

    • rtryon genidma September 9, 2015 on 12:21 pm

      1. One good Iranian nuclear exchange when we help them prepare to do it, and the population may be reduced to the point of making the trip elsewhere an idea for the few remaining no matter the risks!

      2. Intelligent family planning might make the trip to the unknown be postponed save for the few that ant to pioneer.
      3. Moratoriums are possibly intelligent actions although nobody is smart enough to know when and how to lift them.

      Good luck!

  • Facebook -155 September 10, 2015 on 5:12 pm

    It looks like everyone is on the same page here! You want to know what will happen? I can TELL you….
    Time Travel is already; here and the combination of genetic engineering with Time Travel technology I am almost CERTAIN is what creates the mess we have in our skies!

    Time travel and genetic engineering DO NOT MIX. I wrote about this on my site. (If you have any doubts about whether time travel is a reality, or its current state of development, please visit the homepage or contact me). The article is here:

    *Please note that my area of specialty is not in Biology or UFOlogy, but temporal mechanics. The human genome must be PRESERVED. I’m definitely a futurist like everyone else here, but I believe that humans have the capability to evolve naturally.

    I also have to apologize in advance for the profile, as I have a “business only page on Facebook”

    The Quantum Time Travel Institute

    • rtryon Facebook -155 September 10, 2015 on 6:57 pm

      Hi Facebook 155! I am pleased that your field of temporal mechanics leads you to write: “The human genome must be PRESERVED. I’m definitely a futurist like everyone else here, but I believe that humans have the capability to evolve naturally.”

      I take these words to mean that you feel certain that the human genome is somewhat more important “in the scheme of things” than virtually all others known to both of us. I agree.

      What I write to wonder is: Do you consider that Charles Darwin did more than discover biological evolution? I hope you don’t equate discovery with invention; but agree that the inventive capacity to make all species after inventing a universe and perhaps many more experiments of greater duration that that of our younger part of the Universe, may have caused that inventive entity to want to be relieved of the need to adjust all species to have many survive each geologic epic, and give credit to the genius that could have done the one also created or invented the process of evolution to avoid a rather counter-productive task that deserved to be what we now call “automated”.

      If so, you may sure choose to think that the same God allows us to send an expedition into space in need of DNA that suspends life for a few hundred thousand years of making an automated journey and then lets all awake to discover some other expected part of the Universe in which we can be aliens from outer space being greeted by those that may have been our ancestors a few billion of our years ago.

      Not sure what all this means to the futurist movement, but I confess at 83, I don’t think it makes a good choice for me to volunteer! Not sure about anyone else.

      • Facebook -155 rtryon September 11, 2015 on 1:15 pm

        When I said “preserve”, I mean exactly that. Consequently I AM a firm believer in things like Gene Therapy and Stem Cell Research. Correcting a genetic problem or regrowing a lost limb is one thing. Creating a “supersoldier” in a lab is something else ENTIRELY!The part that I didn’t get into, is that these beings steal our time travel technology and adapt it for their own ends. Then they go back in time and pass themselves off as Gods. All because of the Recombinant DNA and Chimera research that is being done. THAT is my point. I use the the term “evolution” much more loosely. (Personally I think both Darwin and the Bible Thumpers need to be thrown out the nearest window! Hopefully they will land on top of each other!) Evolution happens in all aspects of the universe, including things like star formation. For me it’s purely a mathematical process connected to a branch of mathematics known as “Chaos Theory”. The whole universe runs on mathematics! We are living in a digital universe and now there are strong indications that our universe is a computer simulation! Both the atheists and the Bible Thumpers are probably going to be in a world of hurt, because if the quantum computing people and the quantum physicists are right then “God” is a programming team from our future!

        • genidma Facebook -155 September 11, 2015 on 1:21 pm

          Seems like you only use 155 neurons when you post comments on the Internet.

          • Facebook -155 genidma September 12, 2015 on 11:22 am

            It would appear that in spite of the 100 billion + neurons more than I, that you claim to possess, they have not helped you at all in improving your ability to either reason or communicate effectively; as you have engaged in what is known as an “ad hominem attack”. You can read about this here:


            I suggest you to take a course in either Logic or Philosophy to correct this problem. If you have a specific objection to anything I have stated or a question regarding either my line of reasoning or sources regarding same, I suggest you state them here, so I can respond them accordingly! I am NOT responsible for either your Dogma or your inability to use both sides of your brain. Have a nice day!

            • genidma Facebook -155 September 13, 2015 on 9:15 am

              155 is not bad.

              “Each neuron may be connected to up to 10,000 other neurons, passing signals to each other via as many as 1,000 trillion synaptic connections, equivalent by some estimates to a computer with a 1 trillion bit per second processor.”

  • genidma September 11, 2015 on 7:25 am

    There are enormous opportunities to be had when it comes to innovations such as these. But, every development also poses a level of risk. There has never been an exception to this rule and probably won’t be for the foreseeable future.

    One of the risks here is the inability to be able to detect the development of pathogens. The only way we can nip destructive/lethal/man-made (DNA) designs in the bud is to have nano sensors spread out across the city/towns that detect these pathogens.

    I just did a Google search for nanosensors and it seems like Australian students have invented a cheap nano sensor to detect Ebola.

    “The machine has been designed to detect Ebola, but it could look for DNA from anything – such as the kind that’s found in cancer cells, HIV, bacterium or tuberculosis”

    – Obviously, the key here is to do the detections without the blood samples. Specially if these sensors are going to be used in the billions in public spaces.
    – The other issue is how to detect the unknown pathogens. Are biomarkers the only mechanism by which pathogens can be identified?

    Again and overall, we have to be very clear, transparent and objective (without bias) about how we categorize the various risks, but also, how we’d like to benefit from the opportunities.

    When it comes to this development, tremendous opportunities can be had. But there in, also exists the potential that even a single individual could end up causing a lot of harm.

    However, that risk has always existed and humans have been very successful in managing the risks. Our existence is a testament to that fact. From stone tools, to the discovery of fire and all the way up to the splitting of atoms. The list is long.

    For the issue at hand, I have already let some of my thoughts known, when it comes to the enormous enormous opportunities that such a development could provide.

    But, I spent a bit more time thinking about the risk and I did sleep on it. I would categorize this risk, almost along the same ‘impact scale’ that an advanced cyber weaponry has the potential to unleash.

    With risks, you calculate them on a impact scale and also on a probability scale.

    When it comes to the probability of something really bad happening with someone using bioterrorism as a weapon. In the absence of data of all sorts, it is next to impossible, in order to put an actual number on the probability of the occurrence of such an event.

    But, like I said, I would classify it with the same impact scale that advanced cyber weaponry could/may have.

    For example, some reports suggest that the code for Stuxnet has been out there on the Internet for quite some time. Stuxnet, for those who are unaware, is an advanced computer worm developed with the intent of crippling industrial systems was reportedly developed on a nation/state level. According to Wikipedia, Stuxnet reportedly ruined almost one-fifth of Iran’s nuclear centrifuges. (They have quotes Business Insider as a source with a link to the source article).

    Now, since the release of the code on the Internet, it is unclear:
    – Who is using the code.
    – What are they using it for.
    – What is the intent behind using the code.

    I don’t want to turn this into a cyber security discussion, but there are two major phenomenon occurring in the world of cyber security:
    – The many many attacks over time that add up to a lot. That these attacks have been occurring for decades. If the issue is not addressed intelligently, then soon there will come a time when the system will not be able to compete. Don’t do enough and you can’t compete and do this wrong and Democracy and everything that it powers becomes an after-thought. So a complex systems issue on it’s own.
    – With the release and accessibility of advanced cyber payload weapons like Stuxnet, again the possibility that a big attack is coming is also there. In 2013, Janet Napolitano warned about a quote ‘serious’ large scale cyber attack on US which was imminent. Now Janet, did not tie the release of Stuxnet (code) with the large scale attack that she has predicted. But you are talking about the release of code, that has the potential of bringing down power plants. Meaning, the probability that there could be attacks on critical infrastructure are higher.

    If anyone would like to know more about the timeline when it comes to the evolution of cyber security, then I have tried to look at this issue and document it at my blog. (Scroll down just a bit).

    So bioterrorism has parallel with cyber. But the urgency is going to be so much more.

    I don’t think that installing advances sensors is going to be enough. We need more computing, we need more intelligent computing, we need cognitive computing and systems that have the ability to detect/repair on their own. That is a conversation on it’s own and an important conversation at that.

    However, what is even more important is to take a strategic high-level view of this development and other developments.

    There are three key points that are very important for all of us to understand. The first one is to look at the bigger picture, the second is to adopt a systems view and why individual human lives matter and the third is to be mindful of the risks coming our way and architect changes in light of that fact and not get caught up with the issues at hand.
    1. To adopt that 3-d view of this development and all the underlying systems that have to be architected in order to support developments of all sorts. Meaning, we need better technology as I have mentioned above. But we also have to go back to the basics and fix systems of all sorts. We have to fix the education system because there is an urgent need for having graduates that have the means and capability of helping us support the infrastructure. However, the landscape is changing so fast that there is the need for nano-degree. There is the need for rethinking of how work is conducted, specially is humans are going to be learning and doing at the same time. And many other things along these lines that will be required across the board from a systems point of view.
    2. While I try and wrap my head around such problems in my head, often I am led to the same realization. We have to fix systems. That prevention is better than cure. That if we redirected our collective energies in order to fix systems, then we will greatly greatly minimize the likelihood that an individual or a group of people would even think about engaging in behaviour that will be destructive in it’s nature.
    3. All issues are more important. But perhaps, the third issue is the most important. My sense is that the risks coming our way are going to make all of the existing problems seem pale in comparison. I hope that my words are not taken out of context and I am, in no way, suggesting that the risks, as they exist today are not genuine risks. That being said, imagine if 33 million people have to be migrated out of California because there just isn’t enough water or that the rising water levels around the world entail that the countries in South East Asia are going to go underwater. Or that drought and starvation are going to wreak havoc and that entire continents will have to deal with hundreds of millions of refugees. On top of that food and water resources are scarce, because we never invested in such technologies because we could not make up our mind about the role that technology plays in society or that we did an absolutely poor fucking job of defining and managing the risks. The imperative is that we force ourselves to think about such problems. Burying out head in the sand, not focusing enough in order to develop the kind of scientific breakthroughs and technologies that we need and not working on upgrading and fixing our systems is a recipe for disaster. It won’t be climate change that is going to be destroying us, on the other hand, it will be inertia that will destroy us.

    I don’t think that any one country or group of people have the means and capabilities of coming up with solutions to the risks coming our way.

    The way I see it, what happens in the future falls between the two spectrums. There is an infinite number of possibility. There is also the possibility that a merger of sorts between the two spectrums is what could happen. One could argue, that that is what humans are experiencing today. But the choice is ours. The problems we see around ourselves are man-made. If you peer outside with a lens, then you will notice that the earth is still going around the sun and our solar system is still going around our Galaxy in a clock-work formation. The designs are indicative of the fact that the problems that we are seeing are our creation and so the fix is also there.

    Here are the two opposite ends of the spectrum that I was referring to:
    1. Some percentage of humans decide that a) That they do not want to leverage technology or significantly impede the development when it comes to scientific research and technological progress. b) Decisions that impact the lives of billions are made in a non-transparent way. Wars, pestilence/disease and climate change wipe out a significant percentage of the human population. Humanity is split into many different factions and civilization has to start all over again. There is no guarantee that there is going to be any security, democracy, stability of freedoms.
    2. Humans will learn to work with each other in a transparent way and break free of the shackles of bad design. Everything will need to be re-thought and newer designs are going to be required. Rapid cycles of innovation will create a stellar future where we will not only have the means and capabilities of reversing the developments that threaten the collective existence of all the different species on this planet. But that in addition to that, we will have resource abundance and a chance have the means and capabilities for providing for a population that will at the very least spread across a wide area and number in the 100 Billion. From the time the idea was conceived till humans landed a person on the moon, all of it happened in a span of 15 years. The technology that we have today can allow us to do a LOT more in an equally shorter amount of time. We need to stop fighting and start working on enabling the future.

    The choice really is ours.

    I think our existing state reality is a lot of #1 and some of #2.

    Going to #2 may seem like nothing short of a miracle. I mean, just look at the state of the world today.

    We need a group of people who are okay with working in a completely transparent level, down to the level of their thoughts. We then need to equip this group of people with the tools so that they can work on enabling the future. We tell these individuals, what not to do, which would largely be modelled after the principle of ‘do no harm’ and then let them work on enabling the future.

    I don’t think anyone wants to be in the camp of making the tough decisions.

    Let’s give co-operation a chance. Let us work in transparent ways. Managing risk is built in our DNA, we’ve been doing that since we learned how to use fire. But most importantly, let us focus inwards and work on changing ourselves.

    • genidma genidma September 11, 2015 on 9:40 am

      “Civilizations thrived and adapted to changing circumstances when they invested trust and resources in their creative minority” – Arnold Toynbee

    • Horst G Ludwig genidma September 12, 2015 on 10:58 pm

      It all comes down to sensors if we talk DNA, virus, bacteria sequencing on mini devices and we are actually researching this for 5 years.
      And in regard of internet security or software stand alone we shall expect a silent revolution any moment and which indeed is linked to AI and quantum behaviour.

      • genidma Horst G Ludwig September 13, 2015 on 8:58 am

        That’s what I thought. If not sensors, then I am not sure what is it that will allow us to monitor all kinds of locations in an intelligent way. Nano sensors make sense. Something you can re-program. So that they have new virus definitions and pattern recognition techniques. But the imperative would be to leverage such a tech with a combination of other technologies and constructs.

        Yeah, I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the Information Tech space or ever since I was 17. Implementing adequate infosec has been a consistent challenge and that’s definitely not good.

        My sense here and overall is that at this ‘juncture’ of space/time civilization is constantly struggling and is barely able to maintain it’s existence. That there are a variety of factors at play here. But most noticeable is the fact that complexity has increased, that there is less and less transparency and the focus on the basics is not there. If things continue this way in a broken, non-transparent, unenlightened manner, then civilization will collapse.

        I don’t know what the term silent revolution entails that you are referring to. But a breakthrough in computing and specifically Quantum Computing will break all security (crypto) as we know it. <– An article here on SingularityHub about this topic. In due course of time, it will also enable newer types of crypto. But first, the breakdown will occur.

        My take on certain developments is different from the mainstream approach. Which it seems like is an approach where by there is a lot of analysis in specific circles which could lead to paralysis. I think that the underlying reason here is that the problems were not defined correctly in the first place, which is due to a limited number of point of views that converge in order to define the problem.

        I personally categorize developments along the lines of either one of the following:
        a) Is occurring
        b) Has the potential to occur in the near future
        c) Likelihood of occurring is x % or
        d) Will not occur.

        If you only use one of these metrics in order to formulate an opinion in your mind, then it leads one to an area where you seek information in order to confirm your biases. In the realm of decision making, this is referred to as a 'confirmation bias'.

        However, if you use a combination of such techniques (and then some more), then I think, I think, I am not sure. But I think it helps one come up with an answer that is more grounded in the truth. This rule breaks down, if a) a nation/state has been leveraging automated systems in order to constantly redirected cognition on an individual level b) The origins of thought are completely different based on what our perception leads us to believe that they should be.

        When you say developments in AI. One should go and research that area, starting with first principles and then working their way up. However, it is always wise to look at the developments from:
        a) A high level strategy overview and not get embroiled in specific issues and specially for a longer duration and
        b) Look at the situation from a variety of different angles.

        My take on this particular topic of machine based consciousness is that:
        1. The roots of consciousness remain elusive.
        2. This entails that we do not have a very firm grasp of what makes us human. We know that the neocortex has grown exponentially during the past million of years or so. But consciousness remains a mystery.
        3. Humans do not act in ways that is good for their long term survival. Which entails that the mechanism by which the human brain functions impedes the ability to be able to think longer term. So from a cosmic perspective and considering the age of the Universe, our perception is extremely limited. That entails that we are not as aware as we should be.

        Developments, as they are to be had in the domain of machine based consciousness will expand our perception and our awareness. There will be a shift of sorts when it comes to our consciousness.

  • tobar September 12, 2015 on 2:28 pm

    It’s obvious what needs to happen now. We are at a critical technological point where we must take control of our own evolutionary jump to the Kardashev scale civilization level 1. We can’t wait around for mother nature to do it. Those of you who try and put a God in the mix, well good luck on that primitive idea. We will deal with the insane people on this planet after we make the evolutionary jump into a world we will build ourselves. Riding it from disease, ignorance and the concept of a God.

    • rtryon tobar September 12, 2015 on 5:41 pm

      Hi tobar? Its nice to know, but not a surprise, that those who plan to build a world outside of the one related to the Star that is our Sun, are aware of what it takes to do a DNA change in a time that probably only requires two couples to ride for the short trip ahead, taking some well calculated number of fertilized other super DNA eggs along with the advanced incubator that will only be needed once. On arrival at Nirvana #?? the complex solution to instant maturity for the ‘hatched’ eggs will populate the Utopian setting where all beings live forever so reproduction is not needed.

      Since the AI and robotic bodies of the foursome that need to be awakened on the distant arrival have all of the intellect that will ever be needed, they will be necessary, but careful not to expect any special recognition or automatic long-term responsibility to unleash the perfect everything.

      It will be nice if you report back so we can add another correction to our many misunderstandings or ignorant attitudes about the inferior God that created this Universe. Maybe your will be another new one and make communication back here be difficult. So, we wish you good luck and shall pray for your safe landing.

    • rtryon tobar September 13, 2015 on 2:09 pm

      Thanks Tobar for your count of planets in the universe. Billions is too small a number! We have been listening for signals from all of them in Puerto Rico since before you were born probably…at least on this planet.

      Oddly, I doubt that you can name one of them that has communicated or established intelligent presence?

      • Tobor rtryon September 14, 2015 on 4:22 pm

        Rtryon: You babble on to much. It’s pretty easy to see your problem. It’s pretty simple, lose the God perspective and will you truly see the universe and ALL it’s beauty. You assume to much when talking to me. You think I’m a little younger then you? Think again, I’m as old as the universe just as you are. You don’t need a God to appreciate such natural timeless beauty. Don’t be afraid of it you can embrace the power of the universe as is no strings attached, except for maybe the theory. 🙂

        • rtryon Tobor September 15, 2015 on 7:57 am

          I do respect my elders Tobar. Most of them, however, are no longer living on Earth. You must be the exception!

          Since childhood over 80 years ago I have been awe struck by the beauty of astronomic events and settings as well as the more commonly found evidences on Earth of both chaos and laws of nature and physics.

          I have also been intimately aware of the need for self reliance to survive, and what economic hardship means both good and bad.

          Go- forth old man!


  • Kaleb September 12, 2015 on 9:08 pm

    With this technology could we not use CRISPR’s to create designer cures to the designer viruses?

    • genidma Kaleb September 13, 2015 on 9:13 am

      Theoretically speaking, yes. But detection comes first.

  • genidma September 13, 2015 on 9:43 am

    So on the virii/bacterium front and in terms of how to mitigate the risk. This is what could be done

    1. DTRA budget is increased, so that it can work with DARPA and other agencies in order to put a solution in place. The solution should be automated as much as possible, so that the operational cost is kept to a minimum.
    2. The solution can be crowdsourced. One example here would be to enable Startup Weekend events with a specific focus on coming up with proactive solutions against bioterrorism. However, considering the sensitivity of the issue, it would be best if military agencies co-ordinated with institutions like Kauffman foundation, how best to architect such a development. We already have cyber security themed startup weekends all over the world. Bio could have been enabled in a virtual environment. Not sure how real world startup weekends are going to be enabled, considering the risk of infections in uncontrolled environments.
    3. An Xprize tricorder nano version prize is offered. Not sure how long it’s going to take to develop.

    • genidma genidma September 13, 2015 on 10:28 am

      We can speed up the process by which breakthroughs can be had, if (amongst other things):
      – We rethink how work is conducted
      – How resources are distributed. (Basics of hierarchy of needs – Maslow)
      – Come up with a somewhat diverse range of societies within a construct.
      a) Brewster Kahle’s Open Society
      b) Sharing economy
      c) Jeremy Rifkins or Yochai’s Benkler’s Commons-based peer production
      d) The Culture (series) by Iain M. Banks may be science fiction. But if innovation is to be had, then perhaps an anarchist system is what we need. But this needs to be complimented by David Brin’s vision of a Transparent Society (Steve Mann’s concept of Sousveillance).

      My sense is that the pace at which change is occurring has exceeded to a point, where by the top-down/hierarchical systems simply do not have the capacity in order to be able to deal with the change(s). This was my hunch in 2008 and when I see systems collapsing all over the place, I think that this could be the case. If not, then what we see around ourselves is creative destruction on a mass scale. I don’t know which one is worse. But if it’s the former, then that’s indicative of the fact that bad design has been at play. If it’s the latter (creative destruction), then it entails that we have a bit of a former resulting in the latter and it means that humans will continue using crude mechanisms in order to redefine their sense of reality.

      We must experiment with different models.

      I think we have a chance at coming up with constructs where by we could have a reality where:
      1. We have entire systems that are working in real-time in order to define the problem.
      2. We have entire systems working on coming up with solutions to those problems.
      3. We have innovation happening at light speed.

      Such a model, I think, would have a much better likelihood of:
      – Ensuring our long term survival, protection of the biosphere and the survival of all the species that share this planet with us.
      – Bring about a continued and long lasting cycle of Abundance. Potentially till the point where we start thinking seriously about the problem of entropy.
      – Help spread life across the solar system (At the very least).

      Let’s try something different. Let’s give these different systems and propositions the chance they deserve.

      • genidma genidma September 13, 2015 on 10:56 am

        The role of money and society needs to evolve for the changes proposed above (and then some more) to occur.

        1. We could start with bitcoin and move towards another crypto currency. How this could happen is, if there was a version of Federal Reserve on the State level. Just one of the many ideas.
        2. We do a complete conversion of dollars to crypto on a 1:1 ratio. Meaning, if the money is clean, then no one will lose. You have the opportunity to convert your dollars to crypto currency and that opens up another world of opportunities for an individual/system to invest in. Individual gets enough coins to feed/clothe/shelter themselves and build up their skill-set.
        3. The innovations that have the means of supporting the base pillars of the hierarchy of needs go into effect. From Muufri, to Modern Meadow to construction companies that can 3d print housing over the weekend to security systems that provide and enable security at a fraction of a cost of what it takes to maintain law enforcement today.
        4. Next, individuals and systems decide what is important to them in terms of what they would like to invest in. There are no 4 year election cycles and not having a say in virtually any policy. Don’t have to get stuck with a leader who does a bad job. This is not a cheap shot at Obama, I like the guy and I think he’s done a great job. This is a systems debate.
        5. The electorate has the means and opportunity to replace leaders as they deem fit. However, note the replacement isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the leader that has been ousted. That just means they can come back and try again or they can help provide leadership in another area.
        6. Most breakthroughs are pioneered through the means of equity crowdfunding. Individuals and systems decide what areas that they would like to incentivize.
        7. VC’s take on bigger and better projects. A system is architected, whereby VC’s and equity crowdfunding campaigns work hand and hand in order to help provision resources by which the various (large scale) initiatives are greatly expedited. From an injection of $100 Billion dollars for companies like SpaceX and Planetary Resources to the construction of a Space elevator to growing food in orbit. As well the creation of entire new cities in deserts, underwater e.t.c We fund 100 companies in each area and work on making sure that at least a couple of them are bound to succeed.
        8. Our education system is re-architected in such a way so that we marry Montessori learning with a specific focus on architecting that in such a way that it helps us target the skills gap. AI is constantly assessing the types of industries we would want to mature in the future and the education system (in all of it’s diversity) is re-architected in such a way. On an individual level, what this means is that if you have an interest in psychology, then you should check out the developments in cognitive science. Or if you spend a lot of time playing spaced based games, then you should check out Physics. Then the ‘construct’ of education enables discovery on an individual level. Somewhere around grade 5 or 6 and based on certain genetic traits, we start teaching kids about entrepreneurship and guide their path.
        9. US, China and Russia work together to help open up the frontier of Space in a transparent manner. China and Russia (SCO) puts plans in place in order to move towards a complete and functioning Democracy in <8 years. There are no central Governments in due course of time. Just many city wide systems of Governance and the individuals rotate all the time.

        Other changes along these lines.

        • rtryon genidma September 14, 2015 on 5:38 am

          Looking over your brains amazing flawless output above gives me pause in considering my own ability to make mistakes vs your lack of need to recognize at one trillion error free calculations per second!

          I studied physics and have invented an organic food production tower that can work in your neighbors back yard to feed your brain as it admires a collectivist who can supply phone printed money to help your ideas try to happen. But, you fail to see that politicians survival in a very competitive race to survive, demands that they retain huge re-election fees from every big project that fails as well as those that succeed. The cost is perhaps a lot higher than you expect, and the constipation of bureaucrats that execute multiplies the expense.

          In a dynamic economy with AI making the decisions, thinking no relevant data is missing, because it doesn’t yet exist, but will before AI’s decision is past the stage of organizing to execute ‘shovel ready’ jobs, means that mistakes can be monumental.

          Try poverty- its victims tend to survive!

          • genidma rtryon September 14, 2015 on 4:01 pm

            You are not objective in your criticism.

            What I have proposed above, in a nutshell is for us to think about: speeding up the process by which breakthroughs can be had and one of the things we need to do in this respect is to re-architect society and the role of money in a financial system.

            – Instead of throwing a blanket blurb out there. Be specific. Be precise of how an idea could work or how a strategy could work. Even if you are throwing a blanket strategy out there, be precise. Look at how I begin to formulate a problem and use it as an example if you’d like.
            – I have no idea what your comment about shovel ready jobs and AI making the decisions means. Break this down for me please.
            – I am very glad to hear that you have studied Physics and that you are an inventor. But either pick apart my ideas and my logic systematically or refrain from posting comments on this forum or refrain from replying back to my comments at the very least.

            • rtryon genidma September 14, 2015 on 5:48 pm

              You failed to note that I took no issue with your flawless plan! It is perfect for you and many who have concluded that life on Earth is not forever, which is certainly true. So GO for it!

              My commentary was meant only to weakly, of course, suggest that for those who think that air, water and food can cause survival for a life on Earth as has been the case for a fairly long time as it relates even to Methuselah, we might continue to survive as a species, if learn not to overpopulate with persons wanting to live a learning life with more than what is needed to include what sales people think they can convince us to want so badly that we will fight for these entitlements, especially if others will help steal them from the rich to give to us!

              I am sure you can get A/I to program that out of your robotic body that goes with your mind on the interstellar trip. After all, nobody expects big Macs to be for sale along the way do they?

              So, my inventive effort is preparing to start growing cheap organic quality healthy food. Who knows you might want to do some aquaponics on the trip.

              You see, my question really only concerns your initial premise. My apology for somehow misleading you into thinking I was being critical of your powerful intellect!

              • genidma rtryon September 14, 2015 on 9:03 pm

                I have no idea what you are talking about.

                You can speak openly about what is it that you’d like to see more of.

                No need to use cryptic language. This is an open forum.

                I have nothing against anyone growing organic food.

                That being said, data suggests that we are heading for a serious food and water shortage and that climate change is going to exacerbate this issue. Already, climate change is wreaking havoc in Northern and West Africa.

                Crop yield can only be increased by using a variety of mechanisms.

                I totally disagree with the overpopulation comment. It’s an enormous Universe out there and we need to figure out how to leverage exponential technologies in order to greatly expand the real estate that can be had.

                We went from idea to landing a team on the moon in a span of 15 years. Quote “The Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) used a real time operating system, which enabled astronauts to enter simple commands by typing in pairs of nouns and verbs, to control the spacecraft. It was more basic than the electronics in modern toasters that have computer controlled stop/start/defrost buttons. It had approximately 64Kbyte of memory and operated at 0.043MHz.”

                Today, we have so much more computing that we can put to use and we will put it to use.

                In the future and with subsequent breakthroughs in computing, we will have the potential to power entirely new constructs. Constructs that will give us the ability to greatly expand the mediums (both upstream and downstream) through which our consciousness can expand.

                Think big! And think positive thoughts!

      • genidma genidma September 14, 2015 on 8:14 am

        I think, creative destruction is a spectrum.

        On one end of this spectrum we have war and indifference to the suffering of another. This indifference comes in the form of high rates of PTSD for soldiers who come back from the war zone and why as a society we do not address this issue. Also, the suffering of the innocents who get caught up in the middle and suffer because of collateral damage.

        On the other end is continuous innovation. The only thing that has brought about change and helped us attain increased efficiencies. Whether you want to call it disruptive innovation, or upstarts taking down entrenched monopolies who have overstayed their existence. The only thing that can help bring about change is innovation. Something different that has an impact.

        We need to think of creative ways in order to shift the collective consciousness from one end of this spectrum and increasingly towards the other.

        – If we are successful at performing this shift, then we will leverage the overwhelming amount of research that exists and is coming out at an increasing level and will turn it into creating a world of abundance that is good for all earthly inhabitants (including the species that share this planet with us).
        – If we don’t, then our long term survival is threatened.

        • rtryon genidma September 14, 2015 on 8:23 am
          • genidma rtryon September 14, 2015 on 9:26 am

            Not sure how your question is related to the comment I posted above. But I will answer anyways, because breaking free of the restraints of bad designs and artificial scarcity is something I think about a fair bit. Specially when it comes at the expense of causing damage to the biosphere:

            Having more educated and enlightened individuals means that we can extend our consciousness for an indefinite amount of time. This also means we have a much better probability of solving complex problems, as the insight and ideas will come from anywhere and everywhere.

            1. Data suggests that we are on path to achieve complete sustainability. 100% of our energy needs are going to be generated through sustainable means within the next <15 years (Mostly through solar).
            2. To ensure redundancy, our consciousness should expand into the farther reaches of the cosmos. We can sustain a sizeable population here on earth, but we remain exposed to the almost limitless number of disasters that happen across the galaxy.
            3. The first step is going to be O'Neil colonies or Stanford Torus type of setting and eventually expand to Ringworld type of formations as envisioned by Larry Niven. Not sure how long it's going to take for us to get to the first step and the subsequent steps. But somewhere along the way we should be able to figure out how to open portals to an altogether different dimension of space time and that is going to be our chance of expanding our consciousness beyond this Galactic system. Also is the hard problem of entropy, which will we will have to start thinking about at some point. Again, not sure when. But the timescales involved are definitely on the longer scale.

            Vertical aquaponics is cool. I've looked into this tech in the past. Thanks for sharing.

  • tobar September 13, 2015 on 1:43 pm

    Hi rtryon, There are billons of planets outside your solar system . Civilization level 1 and up. So get over yourself… You are not alone. Thank you for you time…

    P.S. consider this getting back to you.

  • GhenrikG September 13, 2015 on 9:12 pm

    Hm, yes I believe we need to establish guidelines for genetic editing.

    However, I wish this article would have focused a bit more on the conclusion of the paper published by the Chinese scientist.
    They state, that the CRISPR/Cas9 technique is NOT suitable for editing in humans. Somehow, this is rarely mentioned in the press.

    The readers usually do not have time to verify the original sources and therefore get a false picture of the actual possibilities.
    Problem with CRISPR is the following: it can introduce modification in the gene sequence outside the target sequence and therefore create unforeseen consequences. It is so much more efficient and cheaper than other techniques, that much is true. But it does not function on the level required for use in humans.
    I would encourage everyone to read the paper and check how many embryos were used and in how many of these the desired results were achieved. You will see, that this is still a game of luck.

    Despite the hype, this technique is not ready for use in humans yet. It will be at one time, but its handling certainly is not as easy as editing a word document.

    However, use in other fields outside of human gene editing, in which you do not care about some mistakes (alter a bacterium, which produces a specific chemical compound like an amino acid in an industrial scale), will immensely profit from this technique.


  • Roedy Green September 14, 2015 on 5:53 am

    When I was a little boy I read a Greek Myth, Pandora’s Box. The problem with genetic fiddling, is once you release it into the wild, there is no way to bring it back. All it takes is one error. We are absolutely guaranteed somebody will release something that will cause a problem. Let is hope we start with a error big enough to slap our wrists, but not enough to kill us.

    • genidma Roedy Green September 14, 2015 on 8:29 am

      Why? It’s information. Information can be organized in a clear consistent format and also in a hap hazard way.

      Evolution worked slowly over billions of years. Trying an innumerable number of combinations and using probability in order to increase the chances of success.

      Now we have the means and capability of going down to the actual source code.

      The potential that someone will release something that is going to cause a problem is always there. That’s a problem with faulty intelligence that leads a nation to go to war and spend trillions of dollars when in the end not much is achieved and the problem is exacerbated. It’s a problem that exists today with someone somewhere releasing a series of code that can exploit a zero day vulnerability.

      We can be objective about what lies ahead and manage the risk vs the opportunities. Or we can keep stifling scientific and technological progress and in doing so, become the defenders of the decline.

      We need reason and transparency. Need to think of creative solutions in order to mitigate the risks. If we don’t then, we are not engaging nearly enough of our Neocortex. The part of our brain that makes us human.

  • Frank Triana September 14, 2015 on 11:58 am

    In 2014, so we are light years ahead?

    “Diseases that have stalked families for generations – like breast cancer – are being literally stopped in their tracks.”

    “The entire process cost them around $16,000”

    “We read your patent and it says your technology could be used to assess whether a child could have other traits, like eye color, hair color, social intelligence, even whether a child will have a widow’s peak? If your company is so focused on preventing disease, why would you include those traits?”

    “That’s the question. Should it be some group sitting around a mahogany table or should it be all left up to the patient? If it would get to the point where it was like cosmetic surgery, that would be downright awful. But I’d think those are all straw men arguments. And people asked me these very questions that you’re asking me right now, 25 years ago. And it hasn’t happened.”

  • Frank Triana September 14, 2015 on 12:13 pm

    The company who is in clinical trial for this, says that we have another organ, our enzymes. Eat two containers of Fagi Greek yogurt and call me in the morning.

  • Frank Triana September 14, 2015 on 12:21 pm

    “The 47-year-old investor, who co-founded PayPal and made an early bet on Facebook Inc, said he’s taking human growth hormone every day in a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang.
    “It helps maintain muscle mass, so you’re much less likely to get bone injuries, arthritis,” Thiel said in an interview in August. “There’s always a worry that it increases your cancer risk but — I’m hopeful that we’ll get cancer cured in the next decade.” Thiel said he also follows a Paleo diet, doesn’t eat sugar, drinks red wine and runs regularly.
    Thiel’s Founders Fund is investing in a number of biotechnology companies to extend human lifespans, including Stem CentRx Inc., which uses stem cell technology for cancer therapy and Modern Meadow Inc., which is aiming to grow leather and meat in labs. Thiel said, however, that “it’s not yet clear whether people will eat it.”

  • Tobor September 14, 2015 on 5:18 pm

    Scott Kelly (@StationCDRKelly) tweeted at 4:59 PM on Mon, Sep 14, 2015:
    Day 171. A fisheye full of #stars. Good night from @space_station! #YearInSpace

  • granville75067 September 30, 2015 on 8:09 pm

    If you haven’t noticed, this author (VIVEK WADHWA) writes a lot on “The sky is falling” and “The end is near” type articles. And I am just amazed how many commentators are drinking his kool-aid. First, to those with the belief of the Lord. Rest assure, if it is made on earth, it was made in heaven first. Therefore, it’s been pre-approved by the big guy first, so relax, this technology could be a God send. For everyone else, I know sometimes it is so easy to have a knee-jerk reaction on things you don’t necessarily fully understand, so try, educating yourself on the facts vs. the science fiction. This could keep us from going backward instead of forward toward a bright future of eradicating disease and human disorders such as blindness, deafness, childhood dysfunctions, etc. The list goes on. But don’t take my word for it, hence “educating yourself.”

    Gene “Hack” Man

  • Paramendra Kumar Bhagat October 6, 2015 on 6:10 pm

    Which US Senator would you pick to work on a legislation for this? And would you be willing to help co-author the legislation?