Subcultures are interesting so I was watching this ”The world ends in 2012
” google video a few days ago. The video is a bit nauseating and reminds me of what biopunk is not - of how important the intellectual honesty aspect of biopunk really is.
Biopunk isn't an underground movement. It's not at odds with society or the scientific community. It lives in symbiosis with them. Biopunk exists because much of what previously only could be done by academia and corporations is beginning to be within reach for individuals.
Private individuals are going to put the technology to other uses than academia and corporations - and the use of the new tech has an impact on philosophy and popular culture. This is where biopunk has its function.
Biopunk is not anti-academic or anti-corporate... it lives in symbiosis with them but has different interests and a different view.
“Intellectual Honesty” is a beautiful concept from the academic world... it's important because without it we're dangerously close to la-la land.
With this in mind I bring up the following:
There is a legitimate problem with personal constructive biohacking: With the current level of technology we don't have a good defense against microbes.
We want our ability to synthesize pathogens to be in sync with our ability to neutralize them. And right now the ability to synthesize is moving faster than our ability to neutralize... so there may be a window where we have a legitimate problem.
This is the reason why people like George Church call the prospect of personal constructive biohacking “mildly scary”.
We should listen to these people and make them the heroes of our culture, people like Watson, Venter and Church belong alongside Endy and Aull. They are arguably among the most knowledgeable in the field. They know far more about synthetic biology than I do... and they are intellectually honest.
Where there are legitimate problems they need to be openly discussed and resolved... this has to be part of the biopunk culture.
Besides the 'No effective method to neutralize dangerous microbes yet' issue I don't think there are arguments against personal constructive biohacking(except from fringe groups). And the microbe problem will be solved with time.
Also - there is 'safe today' constructive biohacking to be had.
On the topic of stockpiling in wait for the federal government: It's sort of talking about biopunk if it was something else. It's what biopunk could be in the 'The government is out to get you', 'The corporations are out to get you' and 'everything is going to hell' world... and it's an ok idea to play with as a kind of biopunk fiction I think.
But we're not in that world... we're in the 'open access journals', 'all the books you want a mouse click away', 'MIT, Berkeley & co publish their lectures for free on iTunes', 'Pick up the phone and talk to a postdoc.' world.
So lets spend time in this world first and see if we have to worry about the other if it happens.