virus: Re: virus-digest V1 #21

Reed Konsler (
Mon, 16 Sep 1996 15:11:35 -0400

>From: (Kevin M O'Connor)
>Date: Sat, 14 Sep 1996 01:01:42 EDT

>If the concerns you have relayed to us are well-founded, this could be
>trouble. Me; I'm a tecno-utopian. The wave is running higher and faster
>everyday. I think nanotech will change the would so fast that we can't
>possibly predict what things will be like in twenty years. Still, it's
>important to think about such things and extrapolate on current trends.
>When nanotechnology and artificial inteligence do arrive on the scene, we
>may be easily able to sove a persistent problem which we'd been thinking
>about when we might have had far more trouble with a problem about which
>we hadn't been thinking.

I'm pretty Extropian myself. I just hate to see such ideas used to defend
a "What me worry?" attitude. Infinite growth is certianly possible in
principle, and I think achieveable in reality...but it is not inevitable.

In our department, Professor Whiteside's laboratory has made some really
incredible advances in creation of nano-scale structures. These advances
indicate an amazing potential...but also an amazing amount of work which
needs to be done. AI and robots are also developing rapidly...but also not
near what we want them to be now.

Depending on these technologies to bail us out of problems is more risky
that counting on social security. The idea that technological development
will solve all our problems places a unreasonable amount of emphasis on
scientists and engineers. Is it any wonder that people are consulting
astrologers again? We're pretty damn good, and we do pull of the
occasional miracle...but we can't do it on demand.

>From "Why We Get Sick" Nesse, Williams 1994:

"Consider staphyloccal bacteria, the most common cause of wound infection.
In 1941, all such bacteria were vulnerable to penicillin. By 1944, some
strains had already brake down penicillin. Today
some resistance..." p53

"Some strains of cholera now threatening South America are resistant to all
five previously effective drugs" p54

" New York city...3 percent of new cases and 7 percent of recurrent
cases [of TB] are resistant to two or more antibiotics. People with
tuberculosis resistant to multiple drugs have about a 50 percent chance of
survival...about the same as before antibiotics were invented!"


Reed Konsler