The Bill Joy Nightmare Ensemble
Image by jurvetson
Suddenly, it struck me. There they are… the icons of Bill Joy’s GNR fears… people and passions that I have blogged about quite a bit.
For the genetic free speech class that Larry Lessig and I taught at Stanford, we opened with Bill Joy’s Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us, which explores the unbridled risks and “power of destructive self-replication in genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics (GNR)”
Collected together for Brockman’s EDGE panel were the embodiment of Bill Joy’s future fears: Craig Venter (creating a new microbial life form), Ray Kurzweil (the nanotech futurist that catalyzed Joy’s article) and Rodney Brooks (the MIT robotics pioneer).
Of the three GNR risks, I think humanity will cut its teeth in the domain of biotech long before we face comparable threats in robotics or nanotech. I blogged a bit about genetically modified pathogens, and reference Bill Joy in the comments: “The risk of our extinction as we pass through this time of danger has been estimated to be anywhere from 30% to 50%.”
As for the grey goo risk, I offer the flickr perspective =)