Saturday, June 02, 2012

Whether Prometheus?

In the menagerie of Craig Venter’s imagination, tiny bugs will save the world. They will be custom bugs, designer bugs — bugs that only Venter can create. He will mix them up in his private laboratory from bits and pieces of DNA, and then he will release them into the air and the water, into smokestacks and oil spills, hospitals and factories and your house.

Each of the bugs will have a mission. Some will be designed to devour things, like pollution. Others will generate food and fuel. There will be bugs to fight global warming, bugs to clean up toxic waste, bugs to manufacture medicine and diagnose disease, and they will all be driven to complete these tasks by the very fibers of their synthetic DNA.

While reading Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Save the World piece in the NY Times Magazine, blowback or the law of unforeseen consequences kept repeating itself like a mantra, slowly ruminating in my mind, reminding me of the word assume, as this article assumes this biotech is a good thing while just mentioning, in passing, the possibilities of catastrophe but not really looking at just how problematic Ventner's endeavor truly is.

Consider the impact of invasive species like the Cane Toad, the Gypsy Moth, Kudzu, the Brown Tree Snake and the Burmese Python, (We won't mention GMO Corn and the problems it's beginning to cause.) plaques innocently unleashed, in part, to make the world a better place but with end results being anything but yet there's more. The more begins with the fact all of these invasives are macro organisms, able to be seen and touched without issue, with their physical connect to the environment able to be understood without too much of a problem. The bugs Ventner's creating are microbial, which means their connect to the environment will happen at a far more intimate and complex level, where the interaction at cellular level of a vast number of micro organisms, artificial and natural + radiation (sun/earth/space) + man-made chemicals, goes beyond calculation, thus opening a very wide door to...

Henry Wu: You're implying that a group composed entirely of female animals will... breed? 
Dr. Ian Malcolm: No, I'm, I'm simply saying that life, uh... finds a way. - Jurassic Park

In titling this post Whether Prometheus?, the naming seems apt as man is venturing into an area beyond his comprehension as the quantum is a seething sea of probabilities, where uncertainty dominates with no real cause and effect paradigm in play, something totally alien to the everyday macro/classical world where decoherence gives us a sense of stability while underneath it all, indetrmancy rules, for without it, nothing could exist in the multiverse of forever.

Seen below are some of the macro invasives raising hell with the environment. 

Addendum: Last but not least, fluorocarbons and their impact on the ozone layer was never predicted even though, in almost every instance, fluorocarbons are inert.

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