Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA

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pages: 608 words: 150,324

Life's Greatest Secret: The Race to Crack the Genetic Code by Matthew Cobb

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, anti-communist, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Claude Shannon: information theory, conceptual framework, Copley Medal, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, phenotype, post-materialism, Stephen Hawking

This would seem to open the road to creating potentially hazardous GMOs in the knowledge that they would be contained by their engineered physiological requirements. However, a great deal of further work will be needed before this approach can be applied in the real world, and I suspect few scientists – or readers – would want to rely solely on this technique to ensure biosecurity.52 These responsible approaches to the potential impact of a new technique of unprecedented power are a direct descendant of the Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA that so successfully guided science as it was catapulted into the new world of genetic manipulation. In 2008, Paul Berg reflected on the impact of the Asilomar conference: In the 33 years since Asilomar, researchers around the world have carried out countless experiments with recombinant DNA without reported incident. Many of these experiments were inconceivable in 1975, yet as far as we know, none has been a hazard to public health.

Asilomar 1975: DNA modification secured’, Nature, vol. 455, 2008, pp. 290–1. Berg, P. and Singer, M., George Beadle, an Uncommon Farmer: The Emergence of Genetics in the Twentieth Century, Cold Spring Harbor, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2003. Berg, P., Baltimore, D., Boyer, H. W. et al., ‘Potential biohazards of recombinant DNA molecules’, Science, vol. 185, 1974, p. 303. Berg, P., Baltimore, D., Brenner, S. et al., ‘Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA molecules’, Science, vol. 188, 1975, pp. 991–4. Berget, S. M., Moore, C. and Sharp, P. A., ‘Spliced segments at the 5′ terminus of adenovirus 2 late mRNA’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, vol. 74, 1977, pp. 3171–5. Bergstrom, C. T. and Rosvall, M., ‘The transmission sense of information’, Biology and Philosophy, vol. 26, 2011a, pp. 159–76. Bergstrom, C. T. and Rosvall, M., ‘Response to commentaries on “The transmission sense of information”’, Biology and Philosophy, vol. 26, 2011b, pp. 195–200.

Exchange of letters between Seymour Benzer and François Jacob, André Lwoff and Jacques Monod, on the occasion of the French trio being awarded the Nobel Prize, in 1965. Benzer was renowned for his sense of humour. 29. Banner put up in Marshall Nirenberg’s laboratory at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, when news came through of his 1969 Nobel Prize. 30. Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA, 1975. Left to right: Maxine Singer, Norton Zinder, Sydney Brenner and Paul Berg. The possibility of using CRISPR to change the human germ line has recently led to calls for a ‘new Asilomar’ to debate the ethical and technical questions involved. NOTES Chapter 1 1.Wood and Orel (2001), p. 258; see also Cobb (2006a), Poczai et al. (2014). 2.López-Beltrán (1994), Müller-Wille and Rheinberger (2007, 2012). 3.Harvey basically shrugged his shoulders and gave up (Cobb, 2006b). 4.Cobb (2006a). 5.For Mendel’s work and its implications, see Bowler (1989), Gayon (1998), Hartl and Orel (1992).


pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

agricultural Revolution, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, back-to-the-land, biofilm, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, glass ceiling, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, lateral thinking, low earth orbit, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Peter Calthorpe, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, wealth creators, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, William Langewiesche, working-age population, Y2K

Scientists playing God, they declared, were committing abomination. Monstrous organisms would be created, environmentalists said, that could threaten everything living. There would be insulin-shock epidemics and tumor plagues. The Cambridge and Berkeley city councils—both cities the home of major universities—outlawed recombinant-DNA research. The U.S. Congress began introducing restrictive legislation. That was the atmosphere that led to the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules in California in February 1975. Coming from all over the world, some 146 genetic scientists and related professionals convened for four days to regulate their research. They instituted an array of laboratory containment practices and mandated the use of organisms that could not live outside the lab. Some experiments were banned entirely, such as tinkering with the genes of pathogenic organisms.

Ambio Amboseli National Park American Chestnut (Freinkel) American Chestnut Foundation America Needs Indians America’s Ancient Forests (Bonnicksen) Ames, Bruce Ammann, Klaus Anastas, Paul Anderson, Kat Anderson, Rip Andreae, Meinrat Angel, Roger Archer, David Arctic Arctic Marine Council Argentina Asia genetic engineering and Green Revolution and urbanization and see also specific countries Asian Development Bank Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules Association of Space Explorers asteroids Australia Ausubel, Jesse autocatalytic technologies automobiles background radiation bacteria gene transfer and human body and seawater and Baer, José Baer, Steve Bailey, Ronald Baker, Robert Baldwin, J. Bali Bangladesh Banyacya, Thomas Barcode of Life Baskin, Yvonne bats Bay Conservation and Development Commission bears beavers Bechman, Roland Beebe, Spencer Belarus Benedict XIV, Pope Benford, Gregory Benyus, Janine Berlin, Isaiah beta-carotene Betts, Richard Beyer, Peter Bezdek, Roger H.


Innovation and Its Enemies by Calestous Juma

3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, autonomous vehicles, big-box store, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, clean water, collective bargaining, colonial rule, computer age, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, deskilling, disruptive innovation, energy transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, financial innovation, global value chain, Honoré de Balzac, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, loss aversion, Marc Andreessen, means of production, Menlo Park, mobile money, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, pensions crisis, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, smart grid, smart meter, stem cell, Steve Jobs, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Travis Kalanick

Questioning Science Regulatory uncertainties plagued genetic engineering from the beginning, but the scientific community self-regulated those concerns in many instances, understanding the potential dangers genetic engineering posed to the public and to science. Genetic engineering’s transformative power was evident from the time the gene-cloning technique was developed in 1973 by Herbert Boyer and Stanley Cohen. Two years later, participants at the 1975 Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA called for a voluntary moratorium on genetic engineering to allow the National Institutes of Health to develop safety guidelines for what some feared might be risky experiments. By being proactive, the scientific community took responsibility for designing safety guidelines that were themselves guided by the best available scientific knowledge and principles. The scientists set in motion what would become a science-based risk assessment and management system that was applied to subsequent stages in the development of genetic engineering.

See Koran, printing of Arab Spring, 91 Archery, 15 Argentina Bt cotton in, 234 genetically edited crops regulation, 254 transgenic organisms, dispute over, 241 Armenians, as printers in Istanbul, 81–82 Al’Arraq, Muhammad ibn, 50 Arthur, W. Brian, 22, 319n5 Artificial ice industry, 197 Artificial intelligence, 13, 199, 281, 284 Artists, relationship with technology, 223 Asbestos, 31 Asia. See also specific countries agricultural systems in, 253 transgenic crops, response to, 251 Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, 236 Assemblies, technology as collections of, 22–23 Associations. See names of specific organizations and associations Atatürk, Kemal, 89 Attaix (current-generating device manufacturer), 38–39 Attitudes, as barriers to technological innovation, 33, 36 Audiffren (refrigerator brand), 190 Audio recording system, magnetic, 41–42 Auerbach, Junius T., 186 Austin, Samuel, 176 Australia, genetically edited crops in, 234, 254 Authority, technological innovation and, 30–31, 71 Automation, 14, 281, 283–284.


pages: 158 words: 46,353

Future War: Preparing for the New Global Battlefield by Robert H. Latiff

Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, cyber-physical system, Danny Hillis, defense in depth, drone strike, Elon Musk, failed state, friendly fire, Howard Zinn, Internet of things, low earth orbit, Nicholas Carr, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, self-driving car, South China Sea, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Wall-E

After World War I, an international agreement banning the development and use of chemical weapons was signed. Since World War II, numerous efforts have been made to deal with issues of technology, weapons research, and ethics. These include the 1946 Nuremberg trials, the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, and efforts by scientists to place restrictions on biomedical, genomic, and nanotechnology research. Scientists attending the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, near Monterey, California, in 1975 recognized the potential dangers of such DNA research and declared a moratorium until safe and ethical procedures could be developed. The guidelines developed were voluntary, but have been assiduously followed. Rules and theory are one thing, practical applications another. Philosophers have advanced two basic theories that have proven useful in analyzing moral problems and making decisions about ethical issues.


pages: 824 words: 218,333

The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, All science is either physics or stamp collecting, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Benoit Mandelbrot, butterfly effect, dark matter, discovery of DNA, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, longitudinal study, medical residency, moral hazard, mouse model, New Journalism, out of africa, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Scientific racism, stem cell, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Thomas Malthus, twin studies

“are specious”: Herb Boyer interview, 1994, by Sally Smith Hughes, UCSF Oral History Program, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, http://content.cdlib.org/view?docId=kt5d5nb0zs&brand=calisphere&doc.view=entire_text. On New Year’s Day 1974: John F. Morrow et al., “Replication and transcription of eukaryotic DNA in Escherichia coli,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 71, no. 5 (1974): 1743–47. Asilomar II—one of the most unusual: Paul Berg et al., “Summary statement of the Asilomar Conference on recombinant DNA molecules,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 72, no. 6 (1975): 1981–84. “You fucked the plasmid group”: Crotty, Ahead of the Curve, 107. He was promptly accused of: Brenner, “The influence of the press.” “Some people got sick of it all”: Crotty, Ahead of the Curve, 108. “The new techniques, which permit”: Gottweis, Governing Molecules, 88. To mitigate the risks, the document: Berg et al., “Summary statement of the Asilomar Conference,” 1981–84.

abortion prenatal tests and, 267–68, 269, 269n, 273 Roe case on, 268–69 shifting attitudes toward, 269–70, 272 acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), 247, 248, 249, 375 ADA deficiency, 423, 424 ADA gene mutations, 422–24 Adam Agassiz’s race theories on, 331 as First Parent, 25 Adams, Mark, 316 ADCY5 gene, in humans, 451 addiction, genetic components of, 300, 301 adenine, 135, 155–56 adenosine metabolism, 423–24 adenovirus, as gene-therapy vector, 430, 431–32, 434, 435, 465 adoption inheritance patterns in genetic diseases involving, 300 intelligence of transracial adoptees in, 348 as option for carrier couples in genetic disorders, 291 studies of twins reared apart after, 374, 381, 383, 487 Advisory Committee on Uranium, 232 Aeschylus, 21 Agassiz, Louis, 331–32, 343 aging research, with transgenic mice, 421 AIDS, 247, 248, 249, 375 Aktion T4 program, Germany, 123–24 Albany, Prince Leopold, Duke of, 99 alcoholism eugenics on, 116 genetic components of, 301, 459 Alexandra, czarina of Russia, 98, 99, 100 Alice, Princess, 99 alleles Fisher’s mathematical research on combinations using, 104 Mendel’s experimentation on, 48–52 Morgan’s fruit-fly research on, 97 polymorphisms similar to, 280 Allfrey, Vincent, 400n Allis, David, 400, 400n alpha interferon, 251 Alu DNA sequence, 324 Alzheimer’s disease, 97, 316, 421 American Breeders’ Association, 77 American Journal of Human Genetics, 281 Amgen, 308 ammonia Miller’s “primordial soup” experiment using, 411 in ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency, 429, 430, 431, 432 amniocentesis, 267, 269, 291 Anaxagoras, 356–57 Ancestral Law of Heredity, 68–69, 72 Anderson, William French, 424–27, 428, 430 anemia, 169–70 anthropology, 29–30, 124, 331, 335 antibodies, 224, 323, 423, 435 antipsychotic medicines, 1, 6 apes evolution and, 332 pairs of chromosomes of, 322 applied biology, in Nazi Germany, 119, 120 Are You Fit to Marry? (film), 85 Arendt, Hannah, 124 Arieti, Silvano, 442–43 Aristotle, 22–24, 27, 70, 142 Asilomar conference (Asilomar I, 1973), California, 226–27 Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA (Asilomar II, 1975), California influence of, 230, 231–32, 234–35 moratorium proposal of, 230, 477, 502 range of attendees at, 229, 238 recommendations of, 237, 425 restrictions on recombinant DNA from, 243, 243n sessions at, 229–31, 234, 236 Asperger, Hans, 449 association study, 385 atomic bomb, 11, 131, 232, 301, 475 atoms as basic unit, 9–10, 485 coining of word, 71 fundamental units of matter making up, 140 as organizing principle for modern physics, 12 Rutherford’s conceptual model of, 140 attention deficit disorder, 386, 491 Augustinians, Mendel’s life among, 17–18, 49 Auschwitz concentration camp, Germany, 129, 130, 137–38, 502 autism, 276 creativity in, 448, 449 epigenetics used to alter, 406 mismatch between genome and environment in, 265, 482 mutations in, 406, 444, 444n, 454, 503 autoimmune disease, 453 Avery, Oswald background and training of, 133 Griffith’s transformation experiment confirmed by, 133, 136–37 research on DNA as genetic information carrier by, 137, 139, 158, 183, 205, 259, 314, 502 bacteria defense system against invading viruses in, 470–73 drug-resistant, 228–29 gene exchange between, 112 genes turned on or off for metabolic changes in, 175–76, 176n, 307n, 392 genetic information exchanged between, 136 as model system for research, 259 twin studies of genetic variations in response to, 130 Bailey, J.


A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution by Jennifer A. Doudna, Samuel H. Sternberg

3D printing, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, carbon footprint, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, double helix, Drosophila, Mark Zuckerberg, microbiome, mouse model, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, Steven Pinker

., Biomedical Politics (Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 1991); M. Rogers, Biohazard (New York: Knopf, 1977); P. Berg and M. F. Singer, “The Recombinant DNA Controversy: Twenty Years Later,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 92 (1995): 9011–13. Berg and his colleagues decided that most experiments should proceed: P. Berg et al., “Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules,” Science188 (1975): 991–94. gave rise to a consensus that allowed research to proceed with popular support: P. Berg, “Meetings That Changed the World: Asilomar 1975: DNA Modification Secured,” Nature 455 (2008): 290–91. the meeting failed to cast a wide enough net outside the scientific community: “After Asilomar,” Nature 526 (2015): 293–94. topics like biosecurity and ethics from the meeting’s agenda: S.


pages: 416 words: 112,268

Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control by Stuart Russell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Alfred Russel Wallace, Andrew Wiles, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, blockchain, brain emulation, Cass Sunstein, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, computer vision, connected car, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, Gerolamo Cardano, ImageNet competition, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of the wheel, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Mark Zuckerberg, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, openstreetmap, P = NP, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Pierre-Simon Laplace, positional goods, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit maximization, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, Thales of Miletus, The Future of Employment, Thomas Bayes, Thorstein Veblen, transport as a service, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, uranium enrichment, Von Neumann architecture, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, zero-sum game

News article claiming that real AI researchers dismiss talk of risks: Erik Sofge, “Bill Gates fears AI, but AI researchers know better,” Popular Science, January 30, 2015. 14. Another claim that real AI researchers dismiss AI risks: David Kenny, “IBM’s open letter to Congress on artificial intelligence,” June 27, 2017, ibm.com/blogs/policy/kenny-artificial-intelligence-letter. 15. Report from the workshop that proposed voluntary restrictions on genetic engineering: Paul Berg et al., “Summary statement of the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 72 (1975): 1981–84. 16. Policy statement arising from the invention of CRISPR-Cas9 for gene editing: Organizing Committee for the International Summit on Human Gene Editing, “On human gene editing: International Summit statement,” December 3, 2015. 17. The latest policy statement from leading biologists: Eric Lander et al., “Adopt a moratorium on heritable genome editing,” Nature 567 (2019): 165–68. 18.


pages: 428 words: 121,717

Warnings by Richard A. Clarke

active measures, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anti-communist, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, Bernie Madoff, cognitive bias, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, discovery of penicillin, double helix, Elon Musk, failed state, financial thriller, fixed income, Flash crash, forensic accounting, friendly AI, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge worker, Maui Hawaii, megacity, Mikhail Gorbachev, money market fund, mouse model, Nate Silver, new economy, Nicholas Carr, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ponzi scheme, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Sam Altman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Stuxnet, technological singularity, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tunguska event, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Y2K

The conference was hosted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. 16. The Paul Berg Papers: Recombinant DNA Technologies and Researchers’ Responsibilities, 1973–1980, Profiles in Science, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, https://profiles.nlm.nih.gov/ps/retrieve/Narrative/CD/p-nid/260 (accessed Oct. 11, 2016). 17. Paul Berg, David Baltimore, et al., “Summary Statement of the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 72, no. 6 (June 1975): 1981–84. 18. Interview with Paul Berg, June 6, 2016. 19. David Baltimore, Paul Berg, et al., “A Prudent Path Forward for Genomic Engineering and Germline Gene Modification,” Science 348, no. 6230 (Apr. 3, 2015): 36–38. 20. David Cyranoski and Sara Reardon, “Chinese Scientists Genetically Modify Human Embryos,” Nature, Apr. 22, 2015, doi:10.1038/nature.2015.17378. 21.


pages: 688 words: 147,571

Robot Rules: Regulating Artificial Intelligence by Jacob Turner

Ada Lovelace, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, autonomous vehicles, Basel III, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, distributed ledger, don't be evil, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, effective altruism, Elon Musk, financial exclusion, financial innovation, friendly fire, future of work, hive mind, Internet of things, iterative process, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Loebner Prize, medical malpractice, Nate Silver, natural language processing, nudge unit, obamacare, off grid, pattern recognition, Peace of Westphalia, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, technological singularity, Tesla Model S, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Turing test, Vernor Vinge

Both of these topics are too narrow to qualify as general ethical codes and therefore are not discussed further here. 77“CERNA Éthique de la recherche en robotique”: First Report of CERNA, CERNA, 34–35, http://​cerna-ethics-allistene.​org/​digitalAssets/​38/​38704_​Avis_​robotique_​livret.​pdf, accessed 1 June 2018. 78The term “Recombinant” refers to the practice of attaching DNA from one organism to DNA of another, with the potential for creating organisms displaying traits from these multiple sources. See Paul Berg, “Asilomar and Recombinant DNA”, Official Website of the Nobel Prize, https://​www.​nobelprize.​org/​nobel_​prizes/​chemistry/​laureates/​1980/​berg-article.​html, accessed 1 June 2018. 79Paul Berg, David Baltimore, Sydney Brenner, Richard O. Roblin III, and Maxine F. Singer. “Summary Statement of the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA Molecules”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Vol. 72, No. 6 (June 1975), 1981–1984, 1981. 80Paul Berg, “Asilomar and Recombinant DNA”, Official Website of the Nobel Prize, https://​www.​nobelprize.​org/​nobel_​prizes/​chemistry/​laureates/​1980/​berg-article.​html, accessed 1 June 2018. 81“A principled AI Discussion in Asilomar”, Future of Life Institute, 17 January 2017, https://​futureoflife.​org/​2017/​01/​17/​principled-ai-discussion-asilomar/​, accessed 1 June 2018. 8290% approval from participants was required in order for a principle to be adopted in the final set. 83“Asilomar AI Principles”, Future of Life Institute, https://​futureoflife.​org/​ai-principles/​, accessed 1 June 2018. 84Jeffrey Ding, “Deciphering China’s AI Dream”, Governance of AI Program, Future of Humanity Institute (Oxford: Future of Humanity Institute, March 2018), 30, https://​www.​fhi.​ox.​ac.​uk/​wp-content/​uploads/​Deciphering_​Chinas_​AI-Dream.​pdf, accessed 1 June 2018. 85Anonymous comment made in discussion with the author, January 2018.


pages: 513 words: 152,381

The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity by Toby Ord

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, availability heuristic, Columbian Exchange, computer vision, cosmological constant, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, defense in depth, delayed gratification, demographic transition, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Ernest Rutherford, global pandemic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, p-value, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, survivorship bias, the scientific method, uranium enrichment

And they can spend time working with policymakers to ensure national and international regulations are scientifically and technologically sound.54 A good example of successful governance is the Montreal Protocol, which set a timetable to phase out the chemicals that were depleting the ozone layer. It involved rapid and extensive collaboration between scientists, industry leaders and policymakers, leading to what Kofi Annan called “perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date.”55 Another example is the Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, in which leading scientists in the field considered the new dangerous possibilities their work had opened up. In response they designed new safety requirements on further work and restricted some lines of development completely.56 An interesting, and neglected, area of technology governance is differential technological development.57 While it may be too difficult to prevent the development of a risky technology, we may be able to reduce existential risk by speeding up the development of protective technologies relative to dangerous ones.


pages: 615 words: 168,775

Troublemakers: Silicon Valley's Coming of Age by Leslie Berlin

AltaVista, Apple II, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, beat the dealer, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Bob Noyce, Byte Shop, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer age, discovery of DNA, don't be evil, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, Edward Thorp, El Camino Real, fear of failure, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, game design, Haight Ashbury, hiring and firing, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet of things, inventory management, John Markoff, Kickstarter, Kitchen Debate, Leonard Kleinrock, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Mother of all demos, packet switching, Ralph Nader, Robert Metcalfe, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Snapchat, software as a service, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, union organizing, upwardly mobile, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce

Swanson had never heard of Niels Reimers, Stan Cohen, or Herb Boyer. He knew nothing about molecular biology. But he loved science—he read Scientific American cover to cover most months—he needed a job, and he had plenty of time with little to lose. So between cheap meals on the Ping-Pong table that also served as his desk and dining table at home, he cold-called scientists who had attended the Asilomar conference on recombinant DNA almost a year earlier. “I’m a businessman interested in recombinant DNA,” he would begin. Could he ask them a few questions? Some researchers said no. Others offered vague answers to the questions that Swanson considered essential: How long until recombinant DNA could be commercialized? When could the cutting-edge science be used to mass-produce something he could sell? It would be a while, the scientists said.


pages: 677 words: 206,548

Future Crimes: Everything Is Connected, Everyone Is Vulnerable and What We Can Do About It by Marc Goodman

23andMe, 3D printing, active measures, additive manufacturing, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Airbnb, airport security, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Joy: nanobots, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Brian Krebs, business process, butterfly effect, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, data acquisition, data is the new oil, Dean Kamen, disintermediation, don't be evil, double helix, Downton Abbey, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, future of work, game design, global pandemic, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Gordon Gekko, high net worth, High speed trading, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, illegal immigration, impulse control, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kevin Kelly, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kuwabatake Sanjuro: assassination market, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, license plate recognition, lifelogging, litecoin, low earth orbit, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Metcalfe’s law, MITM: man-in-the-middle, mobile money, more computing power than Apollo, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, national security letter, natural language processing, obamacare, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, off grid, offshore financial centre, optical character recognition, Parag Khanna, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, personalized medicine, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, RAND corporation, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Ross Ulbricht, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, security theater, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, Snapchat, social graph, software as a service, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technological singularity, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tesla Model S, The Future of Employment, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, uranium enrichment, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Wave and Pay, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator, zero day

This will be especially true as we drive toward the Internet of Things and see the arrival of highly disruptive technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and nanotechnology. We can no longer neglect the public policy, legal, ethical, and social implications of the rapidly emerging technological tools we are developing; we are morally responsible for our inventions. There are good examples in history where we as a society have brought together expertise in anticipation of catastrophic risk before it occurred. One such case was the 1975 Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, which was held at Asilomar State Beach in Monterey, California. The event gathered 140 biologists, lawyers, ethicists, and physicians to discuss the potential biohazards of emerging DNA technologies and drew up voluntary safety guidelines. As a result of the event, scientists agreed to stop experiments involving mixing the DNA from different organisms—research at the time that held the potential to have radical, poorly understood, and potentially disastrous consequences.