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Archive for the ‘biotech/medical’ category: Page 1305

Jun 11, 2008

Synbioethics/synthethics: Synthetic biology cause concern

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

The report, “Synthetic Biology: Social and Ethical Challenges”, highlights concerns about ownership, misuse, unintended consequences, and accidental release of synthetic organisms into the environment.

Andrew Balmer and Professor Paul Martin, the report’s authors, suggest a threat from “garage biology”, with people experimenting at home. They also emphasise that there is no policy on the impact of synthetic biology on international bioweapons conventions.

Read the entire report here (PDF).

Apr 8, 2008

Disruptions from small recessions to extinctions

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, business, defense, existential risks, futurism, habitats, lifeboat, nanotechnology, space, sustainability

Cross posted from Next big future by Brian Wang, Lifeboat foundation director of Research

I am presenting disruption events for humans and also for biospheres and planets and where I can correlating them with historical frequency and scale.

There has been previous work on categorizing and classifying extinction events. There is Bostroms paper and there is also the work by Jamais Cascio and Michael Anissimov on classification and identifying risks (presented below).

A recent article discusses the inevtiable “end of societies” (it refers to civilizations but it seems to be referring more to things like the end of the roman empire, which still ends up later with Italy, Austria Hungary etc… emerging)

Continue reading “Disruptions from small recessions to extinctions” »

Mar 8, 2008

Mankind’s secrets kept in lunar ark

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, defense, space

IF civilisation is wiped out on Earth, salvation may come from space. Plans are being drawn up for a “Doomsday ark” on the moon containing the essentials of life and civilisation, to be activated in the event of earth being devastated by a giant asteroid or nuclear war.

Construction of a lunar information bank, discussed at a conference in Strasbourg last month, would provide survivors on Earth with a remote-access toolkit to rebuild the human race.

A basic version of the ark would contain hard discs holding information such as DNA sequences and instructions for metal smelting or planting crops. It would be buried in a vault just under the lunar surface and transmitters would send the data to heavily protected receivers on earth. If no receivers survived, the ark would continue transmitting the information until new ones could be built.

Continue reading “Mankind's secrets kept in lunar ark” »

Mar 6, 2008

The Global Viral Forecasting Initiative

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical

The Economist has a piece on the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative (GVFI):

Dr [Nathan] Wolfe, [a virologist at the University of California, Los Angeles], is attempting to create what he calls the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative (GVFI). This is still a pilot project, with only half a dozen sites in Africa and Asia. But he hopes, if he can raise the $50m he needs, to build it into a planet-wide network that can forecast epidemics before they happen, and thus let people prepare their defences well in advance. […]

The next stage of the project is to try to gather as complete an inventory as possible of animal viruses, and Dr Wolfe has enlisted his hunters to take blood samples from whatever they catch. He is collaborating with Eric Delwart and Joe DeRisi of the University of California, San Francisco, to screen this blood for unknown viral genes that indicate new species. The GVFI will also look at people, monitoring symptoms of ill health of unknown cause and trying to match these with unusual viruses.

Continue reading “The Global Viral Forecasting Initiative” »

Feb 23, 2008

New Process Would Turn Greenhouse Gasses into Renewable Fuel Source

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry


The New York Times reports
that Jeffrey Martin and William L. Kubic Jr., two scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratories are proposing a process by which the carbon dioxide — the primary greenhouse gas considered responsible for contributing to global warming — emitted from cars and other polluters would be captured and converted to gasoline, methane and jet fuel.

The bold proposal, which the duo have named “Green Freedom” would create a closed cycle from the emission of greenhouse gasses resulting in the creation of a vast source of renewable energy where today we have an open ended cycle that is considered a global threat.

They say the science is relatively simple and straight forward. Polluted air would be blown over potassium carbonate which would sequester the CO2, a chemical process would then remove the trapped CO2 and via a number of established chemical processes it would then be converted to various types of fuel.

Although the process has not been demonstrated and no prototypes have been built the pair claims that the required steps or other chemical processes that they say are close cousins to those required are already in use. In addition, none of the processes violate any known laws of physics and a number of other top researchers have independently made similar suggestions for the sequestration and reuse of emitted CO2.

Continue reading “New Process Would Turn Greenhouse Gasses into Renewable Fuel Source” »

Jan 28, 2008

Some Progress on Universal Influenza Vaccine

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical

According to ScienceDaily:

The British-American biotech company Acambis reports the successful conclusion of Phase I trials of the universal flu vaccine in humans. The universal influenza vaccine has been pioneered by researchers from VIB and Ghent University. This vaccine is intended to provide protection against all ‘A’ strains of the virus that causes human influenza, including pandemic strains. Therefore, this vaccine will not need to be renewed annually.

InfluenzaWhat would make this new vaccine different from the ones already available is that it would target M2e, a conserved region of influenza “A” strains. Since that part doesn’t constantly mutate and about 2/3 of seasonal epidemics and all pandemics are due to type “A” strains, it could be a very efficient weapon against repeats of the “Spanish Flu” (1918−1919) that killed at least 50 million people worldwide. Only the future will tell if phase II and III trials are successful.

You can learn more about the Lifeboat Foundation BioShield program here.

Jan 25, 2008

On the brink of Synthetic Life: DNA synthesis has increased twenty times to full bacteria size

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, defense, existential risks, futurism, lifeboat, military, nanotechnology

Reposted from Next Big Future which was advancednano.

A 582,970 base pair sequence of DNA has been synthesized.

It’s the first time a genome the size of a bacterium has chemically been synthesized that’s about 20 times longer than [any DNA molecule] synthesized before.

This is a huge increase in capability. It has broad implications for DNA nanotechnology and synthetic biology.

Continue reading “On the brink of Synthetic Life: DNA synthesis has increased twenty times to full bacteria size” »

Nov 29, 2007

Planning for First Lifeboat Foundation Conference Underway

Posted by in categories: biological, biotech/medical, cybercrime/malcode, defense, existential risks, futurism, geopolitics, lifeboat, nanotechnology, robotics/AI, space

Planning for the first Lifeboat Foundation conference has begun. This FREE conference will be held in Second Life to keep costs down and ensure that you won’t have to worry about missing work or school.

While an exact date has not yet been set, we intend to offer you an exciting line up of speakers on a day in the late spring or early summer of 2008.

Several members of Lifeboat’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) have already expressed interest in presenting. However, potential speakers need not be Lifeboat Foundation members.

If you’re interested in speaking, want to help, or you just want to learn more, please contact me at [email protected]

Oct 18, 2007

ETC Group: Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

I’ve been taking a look at an “international civil society organization” called the ETC Group. The “ETC” group is also known as the “Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration”. To be honest, I can’t figure them out. Here is a summary:

“ETC Group is an international civil society organization based in Canada. We are dedicated to the conservation and sustainable advancement of cultural and ecological diversity and human rights. ETC Group supports socially responsible development of technologies useful to the poor and marginalized and we address international governance issues affecting the international community. We also monitor the ownership and control of technologies and the consolidation of corporate power.”

So they look like a somewhat standard leftist environmentalist technology oversight group. Alright.

Continue reading “ETC Group: Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration” »

Oct 16, 2007

Lifeboat Foundation Fellow wins Feynman Prize

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, lifeboat, nanotechnology

Robert Freitas, Jr., Lifeboat Foundation Fellow and head of the Lifeboat Foundation’s Nanomedicine Division has won the 2007 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Communication.

Dr. Pearl Chin, President of the Foresight Nanotech Institute, said Freitas received the award for “pioneering the study and communication of the benefits to be obtained from an advanced nanomedicine that will be made possible by molecular manufacturing [and for having] worked to develop and communicate a path from our current technology base to a future technology base that will enable advanced nanomedicine.”

Prior to his Feynman Prize win Robert shared the Lifeboat Foundation’s 2006 Guardian Award with technology legend Bill Joy. Freitas and Joy shared the Guardian award for their many years of work on mitigating risks posed by advanced technologies.