The Bill Joy Nightmare Ensemble

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 =)

3 thoughts on “The Bill Joy Nightmare Ensemble

  1. Wow man!!!!! took me a while to read the threads. I think I’m going to unplug my computer and dust off the old film. But I can’t……. Ther in lies my quandary, and I guess the point of the discussion.

  2. I met Rodney Brooks (who grew up in my home town of Adelaide) at a talk once. He’s a very nice guy. These guys are legends to me. great snap. what was the event you were at?

  3. It was EDGE @ TED: "SCIENCE AT THE EDGE: REBOOTING BIOLOGY". I highly recommend if you want unique perspectives from big thinkers. The transcript of this talk should be posted there in the future.

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