Thursday, July 12, 2007

Experts of ignorance

I always have to laugh when I come across a so-called "expert" who makes unqualified statements of fact which are clearly not entirely correct. In the arena of synthetic biology we are beginning to see things like this:

The notion is that, as we engineer more complex systems, our ability to predict their behavior diminishes
according to microbiologist James Collins. But systems engineering tells us that more complex systems are generally more stable and predictable than simple systems especially under high degrees of feedback. On top of it, these alarmist statements ignore already existing guidelines and practices as well as the actual intelligence of those people working in the field of synthetic biology.

We've seen this same pattern before, in the social backlash at genetic engineering. Yet, after 40+ years of development and commercialization of genetic engineering none of the disasters which were stridently predicted have ever come to pass.

In the era of self-aggrandizing niche cutters it is just too much to hope that our fellow humans will respond with a modicum of detachment and common sense when faced with new opportunities.



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