Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fox news makes a good point

Most of the time I view fox news as "news based entertainment" rather than actual journalism. But there was an article today (via google news) that caught my attention. Scientists in the Netherlands created a new strain of the bird flu virus that is more virulent and potentially capable of killing millions if it falls into the right hands. The author suggests that developing a virus like this is not very difficult if you have a basic lab and know how to do it. Compared to the costs of developing a nuclear weapon a virus like this certainly gets you more bang for the buck. This brings up a few questions. First, why was this research performed and should it have been allowed in the first place? Just because science can do something doesn't mean it should. Next, should these results be published? Regardless of whether the research should have been allowed or not, the information for how to do this is a matter of national security. We don't exactly publish specs for ICBMs. And finally, what can we do about this? As information becomes more widespread the people who want to do harm have more means to do so. This problem is the hardest to deal with. Do we become a police state? That seems to be way things are heading. Where do we draw the line? What price is too high to pay for freedom?


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