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jerryking : bioterrorism   4

How to save the human race from extinction
March 19, 2020 | Financial Times | by James Crabtree.

** The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity,  by Toby Ord
** Apocalypse How? Technology and the Threat of Disaster, by Oliver Letwin, 
** Notes from an Apocalypse: A Personal Journey to the End of the World and Back, by Mark O’Connell,
How Everything Can Collapse, by Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens (translated by Andrew Brown)

If coronavirus doesn’t kill us, climate or AI could. Why we must get serious about saving the world.

Visions of post-apocalyptic collapse are familiar from disaster movies, or novels such as Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Ord’s concern is more with what he calls “existential” risk: an apocalypse in which there is no “post”; just the end of all of us. Hence his calculations of the chance of human life ending entirely during this century: one in six.......Ord's book tallies up various apocalyptic scenarios, from asteroid strikes to the one in 1,000m chance of a “stellar explosion” in space taking the Earth with it. More alarming are the man-made “anthropogenic” threats, specifically climate change, broader environmental collapse, nuclear war, biotechnology and artificial intelligence. These risks are new, coming together in the latter 20th century to create an era that Ord dubs “the precipice”, meaning one in which total human collapse remains alarmingly likely........Ord worries most of all about “unaligned artificial intelligence”, giving odds of one in 10 to the notion that future intelligent machines might wipe out their human underlings — a scenario that has also alarmed the likes of the late scientist Stephen Hawking and entrepreneur Elon Musk.....Pandemics are his second-biggest fear......The real risk here, however, is man-made, specifically a bioweapon or lab-mutated virus......Chaotic hospital scenes in Wuhan and Lombardy make such risks easier to imagine.......Oliver Letwin’s Apocalypse How? sketches out just one scenario, in which a fictional freak “space weather” magnetic pulse knocks out Britain’s internet, electricity and other vital networks on New Year’s Eve 2037, causing chaos and tens of thousands of deaths.......
Letwin's bigger argument concerns the rising vulnerability of sophisticated industrialised societies, given the complex interlocking technological networks that already underpin almost all of our social systems....“If the electricity grid and the internet go down in the late 2030s, and if we have not taken very particular precautions, it is likely that life as we know it will close down too,”.......Pablo Servigne and Raphaël Stevens'  How Everything Can Collapse......focuses on "collapsology” which covers plenty of ground, from the risks of fossil fuel-dependent energy systems to instability in international finance.....their concern is primarily ecological, namely the overburdening of the Earth’s natural systems, from the climate crisis to the collapse in biodiversity.....Five mass extinctions have scarred our planet’s 4.5bn-year history, the most recent wiping out the dinosaurs 65m years ago........contemporary potential disasters share a common feature — they result at some level from the intersection of globalisation and technology......Globalisation has brought huge benefits, but also levels of human interconnection and environmental strain that make now truly global catastrophes much easier to imagine.......Today’s visions of collapse are more gradual, be that a spreading pandemic or the remorseless warming of our planet. “Today, climatic and environmental catastrophes are less spectacular, but they have actually started,” Servigne and Stevens suggest.........How should we prepare for such a possibility? Some take matters into their own hands, the subject of Mark O’Connell’s Notes from an Apocalypse, a delightful peek inside the world of “preppers” gearing up for imminent disruptions to our social or political order......begs the question of what sensible measures should be taken to prepare instead, especially when politicians find it so hard to focus on risks that are low-probability and complex, or those, such as climate change, whose full effects will not be felt for decades......Existential destruction would, by definition, be unprecedented. Yet our world is still littered with the ruins of once-thriving civilisations that did at some point come to an end, mostly for reasons that modern societies are in a position to prevent.
Apocalypses  artificial_intelligence  bioterrorism  book_reviews  books  catastrophes  COVID-19  disaster_preparedness  Elon_Musk  existential  extinction  globalization  H5N1  human_race  humanity  network_risk  pandemics  power_grid  risks  societal_collapse  Stephen_Hawking  threats  viruses  vulnerabilities 
8 days ago by jerryking
Bioterrorism and Handling Product Recall
Excerpt taken from Inescapable data: harnessing the power of convergence
By Chris Stakutis, John Webster.

The better the tracking of goods, the more efficient (and more narrow) a product recall can be. Real-time data collection and integrated computer systems are at the heart of compliant manufacturers. The cost of noncompliance or archaic tracking systems can be exceedingly high. ConAgra in 2002 had to recall more than 18.6 million pounds of beef suspected of E. coli contamination rather than 354,000 pounds because they could not produce sufficient evidence of tracking detail. ConAgra subsequently exited the beef industry.
product_recalls  bioterrorism  massive_data_sets  excerpts  bacteria  traceability  tracking  manufacturers  ConAgra  E._coli  beef 
march 2012 by jerryking
The 21st century's Hiroshima
Aug 6, 2005 | The Globe and Mail pg. A.17 | Preston Manning. The same science that can be used to develop genetically-based cures for human diseases can also be used to produce mutated smallpox bacteria or influenza viruses even more virulent than their predecessors and highly resistant to any known treatment. And if the sun of human progress should again become obscured by the storm clouds of war -- war itself transformed by the increasing scope and sophistication of terrorism -- how long will it be before the plan for utilizing mutated viruses and terrorist-induced pandemics as instruments of mass destruction appears on the underground blackboard of some terrorist cell capable of implementing it?

The third pebble

What exactly is the most disruptive and lethal dimension of the "dark side" of the life sciences -- the genetic equivalent of the first A-bomb -- and how might this destructive force be delivered to target populations to accomplish the political purposes of those desiring to unleash it?

While a terrorist attack on military or civilian populations utilizing such techniques would have immediate impacts on public health, the greater damage to human life and society will most likely be through the panic and terror that such a biological attack or pandemic will trigger throughout the general population. And this panic won't be transmitted by air, water, or utility system, but by the mass-communications network of 21st-century society, in particular the electronic media of radio, television, the Internet, cell phones, and personal computing devices. It is the electronic mass media that will most likely prove to be the B-29s of the age of genetics and bioterrorism.
21st._century  atoms_&_bits  bioterrorism  dark_side  digital_media  disease  DNA  genetics  life_sciences  mass_media  pandemics  panics  Preston_Manning  ripple_effects  terrorism  threats  virulence  viruses  WWI  WWII 
october 2011 by jerryking
The Age of Pandemics - WSJ.com
MAY 2, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | By LARRY BRILLIANT
Modernity--population growth, climate change and increased contact
between humans and animals--is causing more new viruses with pandemic
potential to jump from their traditional animal hosts to humans.
Brilliant outlines what the world needs to do to prepare.

Indeed, to the epidemiological community, the Influenza Pandemic of 2009 is one of the most widely anticipated diseases in history. ....The current pathogen creating the threat is actually a mixture of viral genetic elements from all over the globe that have sorted, shifted, sorted, shifted, drifted and recombined to form this worrisome virus.....Here's the good news: Compared with a few years ago, the world is somewhat better prepared to deal with pandemic influenza. There have been training meetings, table-top exercises, dry runs and preparedness drills at virtually every level of government and civil society. ......Here's the bad news: Today, we remain underprepared for any pandemic or major outbreak, whether it comes from newly emerging infectious diseases, bioterror attack or laboratory accident. We do not have the best general disease surveillance systems or "surge" capacity in our hospitals and health-care facilities......And there is worse news: The 2009 swine flu will not be the last and may not be the worst pandemic that we will face in the coming years. Indeed, we might be entering an Age of Pandemics........In our lifetimes, or our children's lifetimes, we will face a broad array of dangerous emerging 21st-century diseases, man-made or natural, brand-new or old, newly resistant to our current vaccines and antiviral drugs.....Bioterror weapons are cheap and do not need huge labs or government support. They are the poor man's WMD.....
21st._century  bad_news  bioterrorism  disaster_preparedness  disease  disease_surveillance  epidemics  flu_outbreaks  genetic_drift  genetic_shift  infections  influenza  man-made  modernity  pandemics  pathogens  preparation  sorting  surge_capacity  underprepared  viruses  zoonotic 
may 2009 by jerryking

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