Blog | Events | Multimedia | About | Purpose | Programs | Publications | Staff | Contact | Join   
     Login      Register    

Support the IEET




The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States. Please give as you are able, and help support our work for a brighter future.



Search the IEET
Subscribe to: Monthly newsletter Daily news feed Blog feeds Twitter IEET Wiki



Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view




whats new at ieet

Is Mike Judge’s ‘Silicon Valley’ the End of Startup Mania?

Welcome to Plutocrat-geddon! Obama and Thomas Friedman flatter our new billionaire overlords

“Existence” | Talks at Google

LeWeb’13 Paris - Google Hangout

We Need a Carbon Tax!

Back to the future in the Metaverse


ieet books

Between Ape and Artilect: Conversations with Pioneers of AGI and Other Transformative Technologies
Author
by Ben Goertzel ed.


comments

CygnusX1 on 'Does radical enhancement threaten our sense of self?' (Apr 24, 2014)

Gear0Mentation on 'Does radical enhancement threaten our sense of self?' (Apr 24, 2014)

Renaissance Nerd on 'Will sex workers be replaced by robots? (A Precis)' (Apr 23, 2014)

Frank Glover on 'Study Gerontology! This Frontier Provides Hope for the Future' (Apr 21, 2014)

instamatic on 'Social Futurist revolution & the Zero State' (Apr 20, 2014)

rmk948 on 'War Is Good for Us, Dumb New Book Claims' (Apr 20, 2014)

Peter Wicks on 'Social Futurist revolution & the Zero State' (Apr 20, 2014)







Subscribe to IEET News Lists

Daily News Feed

Longevity Dividend List

Catastrophic Risks List

Biopolitics of Popular Culture List

Technoprogressive List

Trans-Spirit List



JET

Sex Work, Technological Unemployment and the Basic Income Guarantee

Technological Unemployment but Still a Lot of Work…

Technological Growth and Unemployment:  A Global Scenario Analysis

Hottest Articles of the Last Month


The Singularity Is Further Than It Appears
Mar 27, 2014
(15484) Hits
(8) Comments

Future of love and sex: monogamy no longer the default, say experts
Mar 30, 2014
(12360) Hits
(3) Comments

Will sex workers be replaced by robots? (A Precis)
Apr 18, 2014
(10060) Hits
(1) Comments

Quest for immortality spurs breakthroughs in human-machine merge
Apr 6, 2014
(6717) Hits
(1) Comments



IEET > Security > Biosecurity > Staff > Marcelo Rinesi

Print Email permalink (0) Comments (2266) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


The Coming Biosecurity Chaos


Marcelo Rinesi
Marcelo Rinesi
Ethical Technology

Posted: Nov 13, 2012

If biotechnology is following the steps of IT, and it seems to, then we are going about biosecurity in precisely the worst possible way.



Of the many strategies used so far to make complex programmable systems secure, most have proven useless or worse:

  • Knowledge suppression (“Security through obscurity”) doesn’t work, as one of the key impacts of the IT revolution has been precisely an exponential explosion on the ability to cheaply distribute and access knowledge. If it’s useful, it’s out there, and if it’s out there, it can be reverse-engineered.
  • Constraining what regular users can do doesn’t work; if the system has a backdoor or administrative mode, it will only be as secure as the (thin) shell defending it.
  • Security by bureaucracy doesn’t work. Standards and processes impose their own logic on systems, which is seldom compatible with good security.
  • Security by reaction doesn’t work, or at least it doesn’t as well as you’d like to. This is a subset of the above issue; the first reflex of companies and governments is to deny problems, then to shift blame internally, and only much later to do something about it. Against the threat model of contemporary technological infrastructure, they are hopelessly slow.

Not coincidentally, our approach to biosecurity so far relies on a combination of knowledge suppression, constraining regular users, bureaucracy, and reaction. As humans beings, and most living organisms, are in fact interconnected programmable biological systems even more complex and less understood than computers, it’s very likely that our biosecurity won’t work better than out IT security, and might in fact be worse.

That’s a scary thought, and because we tend to react to fear in a small set of ways, the most natural ideas to deal with it are going to be variants of the ones above, and equally unlikely to work.

What works in IT is the use of systems designed to be secure, not ex-post “secured” (the term should be considered a one-word oxymoron in computer science) systems. The problem is, of course, that we haven’t been designed, intelligently or otherwise. We have evolved, quite well adapted against certain threat models, that’s true, but there have been no hackers in nature before us. We need to do better than to plug piecemeal individual security vulnerabilities in our bodies; we need to upgrade our security architecture, from the immune system down to DNA integrity assurance, and up to the global public health network, to make it safer by design. There’s nothing in our sometimes painfully gained knowledge of complex systems that suggests there’s any other possible way.

The technical challenges of making the human system structurally safer from a biotechnological point of view are huge, but it’s just a variant of or a point of view about problems we are already fighting: cancer, aging, etc. And insofar as the main difficulty is the insane complexity of the system, that’s something we are constantly getting better at dealing with.

The main problems are political and cultural. Most incumbent institutions are historically committed to a post hoc approach (imagine if antivirus companies founded and vetted OS security research… that’s how it works now in healthcare). Even worse, there’s a strong cultural preference for the unpatched original model, regardless of its problems. Everybody wants better security, but nobody wants a more secure system.

It didn’t work in information technology, and it’s not working for biotechnology, either.


Print Email permalink (0) Comments (2267) Hits •  subscribe Share on facebook Stumble This submit to reddit submit to digg


COMMENTS


YOUR COMMENT (IEET's comment policy)

Login or Register to post a comment.

Next entry: The Future of Freedom - Direct Democracy

Previous entry: Artificial wombs: is a sexless reproduction society in our future?

HOME | ABOUT | FELLOWS | STAFF | EVENTS | SUPPORT  | CONTACT US
SECURING THE FUTURE | LONGER HEALTHIER LIFE | RIGHTS OF THE PERSON | ENVISIONING THE FUTURE
CYBORG BUDDHA PROJECT | AFRICAN FUTURES PROJECT | JOURNAL OF EVOLUTION AND TECHNOLOGY

RSSIEET Blog | email list | newsletter |
The IEET is a 501(c)3 non-profit, tax-exempt organization registered in the State of Connecticut in the United States.

Contact: Executive Director, Dr. James J. Hughes,
Williams 119, Trinity College, 300 Summit St., Hartford CT 06106 USA 
Email: director @ ieet.org     phone: 860-297-2376