I heard a speech by Freeman Dyson a while back. He has various future visions, and this time he was talking about how bio-kits may be soon available which will permit one to design life or organisms. Constructing living systems practically from scratch is work in progress, and it is expected that before decade’s end life can be completely synthetically derived. The unsettling thing about this of course is that such bio-kits will become the playground for everyone, from the disturbed kid who wants to make a disease to the likes of al Queda. Of course if such technology is outlawed it then becomes an black market. The one factor of the modern world is that we have an enormous amount of complexity in this world, and there is the power available to do all sorts of mischief.
I tend to speculate that we are entering a stage where nothing can work. The social sphere is in a crisis because every socioeconomic system is failing. Capitalism is starting to fail, Socialism is failing, and Communism failed. The US is in an inexorable decline, the European Union experiment is in danger of collapse, the theocratic experiment in Iran is in trouble, and the middle east is in revolution without any direction on where next to go. There is no economic order or system of government imaginable that can absolutely prevent just the right miscreant individual or group from using these possible bio-kits to create the grand contagion that makes the black death look mild in comparison.
In the end, we evolved to manage ourselves in small bands and tribes, not in large scale complex societies. Our history pretty clearly shows that we really do a shit lousy job of managing our affairs, and the complexity of our world is growing exponentially. Further, on balance we select the least intellectually qualified, the most dishonest and those with the greatest avarice to manage things; we always have and we continue to do the same today.
Lawrence B. Crowell