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Argument: More good synthetic biologists can outwit malevolent ones

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"And man made life." The Economist. May 20th 2010: "Thoughtful observers of synthetic biology favour a different approach: openness. This avoids shutting out the good in a belated attempt to prevent the bad. Knowledge cannot be unlearned, so the best way to oppose the villains is to have lots of heroes on your side. Then, when a problem arises, an answer can be found quickly. If pathogens can be designed by laptop, vaccines can be, too. And, just as “open source” software lets white-hat computer nerds work against the black-hats, so open-source biology would encourage white-hat geneticists. [...] Regulation—and, especially, vigilance—will still be needed. Keeping an eye out for novel diseases is sensible even when such diseases are natural. Monitoring needs to be redoubled and co-ordinated. Then, whether natural or artificial, the full weight of synthetic biology can be brought to bear on the problem. Encourage the good to outwit the bad and, with luck, you keep Nemesis at bay."

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