Re: Thoughts on public perception and politics
This is something that I have been thinking about for awhile. Excluding some unforeseen safety event (garbage pickup guy gets infected with improperly disposed whatever), I can't really imagine any government interference right now. Biopunk seems pretty fringe to me, which would keep it pretty far off the government's radar for awhile, as they have enough on their plate. I'm curious about the public though. People who aren't comfortable with their neighbor doing experiments with bacteria or who are against genetic engineering. At the same time there is a lot of good things being done with practical applications. I'm being too cynical perhaps. We'll see what the future brings.
I think it will probably go something like this:
In the beginning there will be an overreaction from the general public and the authorities. A few more people will get Steve Kurtzed before this initial phase is over. It will be the evil hacker panic of the 80:ies all over again for a short while. Big in the news.
I think there will probably be some form of government control. Maybe registration, maybe some form of drivers license arrangement. Maybe rules for what organisms can be hacked and not. Maybe some classes that have to be taken or test to be passed... "don't eat in your wetlab"... that sort of thing.
The control part is annoying to me, but I have a feeling if the community doesn't accept it, it will be held back a few years. And it's probably a good idea for the community to take a proactive role in this. The same way academia did during the recombinant DNA scare. The community should aim for the control to be as unobtrusive as possible and make it easy and cheap to participate. It doesn't have to be a big deal.
After a few years biohacking won't have harmed anyone and people will be doing it unsupervised anyway.
How does this sound?