Self Policing Synthetic Biologists

Concerned that “biohackers” would wreck havoc, researchers are looking for ways to police the bio engineering field. The idea quoted in this MSNBC article entitled “Researchers creating life from scratch” by Paul Elias(AP) is to have the industry police itself.

One solution could be to require the few companies that sell genetic material to register with some official entity and report biologists who order DNA strains with weapons potential.

Now I am all in favor of the government staying out of many industries. I believe the government’s presence in many industries is so pervasive that it warps competition. Well, this is one industry where I would rather see a heavy hand then a light one. You can screw up in the accounting industry and not wipe out the human race. Mess up here and you don’t get a second chance.

For those of you interested in digging deeper, I would start with the Biohacker web site. This is really a fascinating field – I’m just concerned that we are counting on everyone involved being a fully functioning human being with a solid understanding of the consequences of his or her own actions. Derya and Vineet indicate

By mid-90s we realized that the biological systems were following an exponential advance similar to computer systems, which double in power approximately every 18 months termed the Moore’s law. It was then not difficult to extrapolated the exponential pace of biological technologies to near future where whole genomes could be sequenced or synthesized in single days, hours and eventually in seconds. This amazing technological advance meant that future biohackers could manipulate the biocode as hackers today write, decode and tinker with computer code.

A most fascinating subject but very troubling.

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