Hubris, Regulation, Artificial Life and Zombies

Mariam Melikadze at references the movie 28 Days in order to criticize irrational and premature regulation.

“And so, much like of the opening scenes of an apocalyptic movie, science has reached a great milestone, … The era of bioengineered creatures has officially begun. … But in all apocalyptic movies the great invention inevitably goes wrong. The environmentalists seem to have picked up on this: only a few days have passed since the discovery was revealed and they are already demanding a ban on synthetic biology. Enter regulation, the obvious answer to all of mankind’s problems.”

Of course, the sentiment expressed in these movies, and our greek myths, is a warning against hubris. In science, economics, politics, and any other personal vanity we engage in.

She is right that we cannot unlearn technology. She is right that civilizations who do not adopt technology are conquered by those who out-gun, out-germ, and out-steel them. She is right that these technologies once mastered, tend to deliver material benefits to the survivors.

However, that doesn’t mean we should not be cautious, experimental, and cogent of our potential for hubris.

And to be cautious, we need to keep that particular mythology alive, lest we invent other technologies like eugenics, complex derivatives, communism and thalidomide.

Or engage in other acts of hubris, like the belief that regulation solves mankind’s problems.

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