Kurzweil proposes national defense program for genetic, nanotechnology and robotics technologies

November 19, 2001 | Source: KurzweilAI

Washington, D.C. , Nov. 19 — Inventor-author Ray Kurzweil has proposed a major new national program to develop defensive strategies, technologies, and ethical standards to address the dangers of emerging genetic, nanotechnology and robotics technologies.

Judy Woodruff interviews Ray Kurzweil at Washington National Cathedral

Judy Woodruff interviews Ray Kurzweil at Washington National Cathedral

“The program would be administered by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health,” said Kurzweil. “It would have a budget equaling the current budget for NSF and NIH.”

Kurzweil made the proposal in a panel discussion at Washington National Cathedral here in response to concerns raised by fellow panelists. In his Wired cover story last year, Sun Microsystems chief scientist Bill Joy advocated relinquishment of broad areas of technology such as nanotechnology. And author/environmentalist Bill McKibben proposed that we consider a complete ban on technology development, saying we “must now grapple squarely with the idea of a world that has enough wealth and enough technological capability, and should not pursue more.”

Bill McKibben, Ray Kurzweil, Judy Woodruff, Bill Joy, and<br />
Anne Foerst discuss the dangers of genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics

Bill McKibben, Ray Kurzweil, Judy Woodruff, Bill Joy, and
Anne Foerst discuss the dangers of genetic engineering, nanotechnology and robotics

“I believe that implementing such a choice would require a Brave New World type of totalitarian government in which the government uses technology to ban the further development of technology,” said Kurzweil. An outright ban “would be destructive, morally indefensible, and in any event would not address the dangers.”

“We are on the verge of multiple revolutions in biotechnology that will save tens of millions of lives and alleviate enormous suffering. The only viable and responsible path is to set a careful course that can realize the promise while managing the peril … a combination of strong ethical standards, technology-enhanced law enforcement, and, most importantly, the development of both technical safeguards and technological immune systems to combat specific dangers.”

Are We Becoming An Endangered Species? Kurzweil responds to questions posed by Washington National Cathedral

Are We Becoming an Endangered Species? Technology and Ethics in the 21st Century

Are We Becoming An Endangered Species? (Briefing Paper)

“Why the Future Doesn’t Need Us,” by Bill Joy, Wired