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June 30th, 2005

Publishing Dangerous Ideas

Chris Phoenix: Two Stanford researchers have written and published a paper suggesting that it would be easy for terrorists to injure or kill hundreds of thousands of people by putting botulism in our milk.

In a sense, this is playing a deadly serious game called "How smart are the terrorists?"

A few commentators on our blog have questioned whether CRN should be publicizing the detailed technical information that we do, explaining exactly why and how molecular manufacturing could lead to massively disruptive advances in technical capability. But talking about molecular manufacturing does not have the same potential short-term downside; no hostile power can act on the idea quickly. So we have more time for the contest of wits. And the key technical ideas were published more than a decade ago. Doing nothing is essentially guaranteed to lead to the implementation of the idea -- but without any chance to prepare for the impact of the technology.

Responsible Nanotechnology

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