Killer viruses and singing maggots

Posted in Bioterrorism, Culture of Lickspittle at 3:30 pm by George Smith

What happens when you ask someone who has never established any credentials in the hard sciences — like biology or chemistry — about the future of bioterrorism?

Rhetorical question. Readers know the answer.

Here’s a futurist, someone named Marc Goodman, for a PBS special:

PAUL SOLMAN: Or maybe creating problems, says Marc Goodman, if the bio-hacker is so inclined.

MARC GOODMAN: As it becomes democratized, I can go ahead and capture your DNA and come up with a particular attack that’s targeted against you specifically.

PAUL SOLMAN: And all you have to do is shake my hand or something to get some DNA.

MARC GOODMAN: And I would have to do is shake your hand, get the coke can that you throw away, get the pen that you signed something with.

PAUL SOLMAN: And then cook up the Paul Solman virus — one and done.

The man doesn’t know anything about real world bioterrorism.

Indeed, one oddly named Genome Compiler Corp, paradoxically seems to indicate he’s never actually been in a lab that would lend practical expertise to the matter. On the other hand, it does have a nice glitzy look one associates with glib snake-oil peddling.

Anyway, with futurism, this isn’t the point. What’s important is that you sound good to laymen.

And that’s easy work in these environs. Alvin Toffler and his wife, Heidi, made a fortune on it decades ago. In fact, the bio-hacker making custom viruses for individuals was basically in one of his their books, War and Anti-War, published at least fifteen years ago (probably longer). Anyone who has read Wired, at least semi-regularly, for any length of time during its history of publication has also seen it many times.

Many can, and literally have, said viruses custom-made to kill you are
coming on the menu. And they’ll be puffing and squirting from the garage or basement because, if you read all the stuff at the PBS link, Petri dishes, DNA sequencing and making life has become so cheap. Evolution is so last decade.

It’s a story that gets repeated over and over, one that does well because it’s appealing and fun, just like tales about Bigfoot, magic, electromagnetic pulse guns and paranormal activity.

If you go out to the PBS link, you’ll see most of it is focused on the story-telling of Singularity University.

Singularity University is the work of Ray Kurzweil, a brilliant man who came up with optical character recognition and software for early synthesizers.

Kurzweil’s also about the clap-trap of the Singularity meme — that idea predicting achievement of God-like power through the the intersection of vast computing power and total control over biological systems.

Even more bluntly, Singularity jabber is generally all by Silicon Valley braggarts who think they’re going to achieve immortality very soon.

For the rest of us, well let’s just say they’ll be no infinity-achieving computers, pet nanobots and popping of forever-pills. Sorry, only for the swells.

The Live Forever crew is now horribly common. With Kurzweil and others, it’s the fetish of gobbling vitamins and supplements daily, being frozen cryogenically, or becoming a cyborg. Custom viruses made from your handshake is very small beer. Indeed, how would they kill once you’ve attained computerized immortality?

If you momentarily click on the links, you’ll see custom Google lists of endlessly deadening articles about technological supremacy and the achievement of everything, all just around the corner.

However, if you read this blog regularly and actually like it, I’d imagine you’ve probably avoided it, just as one would steer clear of plates of singing maggots.

Here’s another question for readers. What’s with these Silicon Valley guys and the I-Want-to-Live-Forever shtick?


  1. Chuck said,

    April 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    I’m still with Shel Silverstein on this one “You’re still gonna die”.


    (Sorry, I couldn’t find a cut of Uncle Shelby doing it)

    I find the song very comforting.

  2. Dave Latchaw said,

    April 28, 2012 at 12:53 am

    I haven’t lived there since the 80s, but it sounds like they’re still doing lots of coke.

  3. George Smith said,

    April 28, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Freakin’ at the Freaker’s Ball, Cover of the Rolling Stone!