What 3D printing did to illustrate the futility of gun control laws, rapid and easy genetic modifications of yeast to produce drugs as easily as they now produce beer and wine are going to do for drug control laws. Skills diffuse through society, are impossible to control for long. Bronze, Iron each spread through the ancient world. Every country tried to protect its secrets, but silk worms were being raised in Persia by 550AD and Spain by 500 years later. Every technology has spread to every culture, eventually, I see no reason either of those would not.
There are already companies that will provide DNA ordered to your specification. There are relatively easy ways of splitting DNA into segments and re-connecting them later, if secrecy was required. That couldn’t ultimately be hidden from one such company, although doing so across several likely would. Thus, I don’t see any reason the bases for 25 genes could not be constructed by anyone anywhere, it is just money, and less and less of that all the time, so larger and larger projects are feasible and more and more projects become economic. Very much like electronics, in fact, but the chemistry part of this is being automated more and more completely, so prices are falling fast, currently 23 cents a base pair quoted online, delivery for 4 days, that also speeds up development projects and lowers their costs.
The average length of a yeast enzyme is 466 amino acids, 3 bases each + 1 overhead for connecting it to the others, round down. $466 for that synthesis, round it up to $1000 for plant and animal enzymes. If I need 50 tries it is 200 working days, need a laboratory functioning for a year. A single gene of that size would have occupied a biochemistry department for many years 30 years ago. Now the same lab could develop them all in parallel, a pipeline for each individual gene, synthesis, test and modify. A one year project for all the genes, a handlful of laboratory workers, probably 2 scientists, a couple of students and some technicians. $2.5M a year is realistic in a state college system of good repute. Legal and all other overheads in a university are far too high, I believe, so private space. Lab security standards may push that up a lot, I have no experience. OTOH, with the crash that is about to happen in higher education, those costs may be much lower in the near future.
A champagne yeast with genes to construct a small amount of other substances such as cannabinoids, ayahuasca, … is a very doable project. Bet there are drug lords looking for good investments. Problems with this kind of a product is maintaining control of an infectious agent, anyone could go into competition. As the costs are down for us, them too, and the barriers to entry will be low. Also, this is way beyond GM, handling the PR of a genegineered product could be a challenge.*
What do we know?
- Barriers to private development of medicines, drugs and biowarfare are falling.
- Barriers to private development and manufacturing of military hardware of all kinds are falling.
- Social, economic and political structures of society are being destroyed by corruption and war.
- Central structures cannot win wars with their own populace, so will inevitably have to change.
- Citizens cannot win wars with fellow citizens, so inevitably have to compromise and forgive.
- There is no way to secure against individual action, whether intentionally spreading one of the pandemic diseases or attack on infrastructure.
- The cost in lives and properties of possible individual actions is proportional to the technology available to the individual.
- Governments are not able to prevent individual actions.
Therefore, we must have a very peaceful and tolerant world, ASAP.
Every day universal peace and tolerance is delayed risks loss of our civilization.
Civil war will cost us civilization because there will be no peace.
So patriots and concerned citizens, you have a choice. Either work very hard for a peaceful and tolerant world, beginning in your own families and communities, or risk having your genetic heritage mislayed in the system-level hiccup that will inevitably follow.
What to do?
- Manage ourselves and our families
Peace in itself is one of our fundamental human values. It is very difficult to build skills, social relationships, knowledge and wealth in war zones. Even civil strife raises costs throughout the economy and makes us all poorer.
Therefore, we need to make sure that our families understand the value of peace and act for it. Arm yourselves, prepare for hard times, disconnect from as much of the status quo as possible, and work at being good neighbors, able to defend each other.
Being self-reliant in community is insulating yourself from the things that cause violence, hunger, poverty, enmity. That is preparing for peace. Peace needs good times to flourish, positive-sum games need peace, and prepared armed strength in defense is a good guarantee of peace.
Integrated communities with reasonable prospects for people’s health and happiness do not produce people who wish evil to others. The few crazies who may tend to evil acts will likely be known to neighbors and thus controllable.
- We need to stop the wars, stop supporting the bad guys, stop helping the good guys.
The US has not been successful at any of that, and can never be. The world is too complex for negative sum games to ever pay off, however clever your play. We are losing wealth and freedom as a nation and society, have to stop this craziness if we are to save our civilization.
It is indisputable, the people in charge of our country are not able to deliver peace, but are excellent at generating new enemies. They can neither win wars nor end them nor prevent their side-effects from spreading chaos ever-wider. We must replace these complete losers, these Progressives of the Right who believe they can use war to deliver a more peaceful and just world. They have not delivered on their promises, not a single one, and their wars endanger our civilization.
I conclude that we must immediately decentralize as much as possible and as fast as possible as the way to remove power from our insane leaders and their insane policies. Along with that, we need local integration with everyone as a community, a much more connected and warm community than most have experienced before.
Without peace and good communities, we will always have crazies that decided to do bad things to their fellow man. The West is enduring an epidemic of multiple-murder by men with guns in gun-free safety zones and the Middle East is enduring an epidemic of suicide bombers. We need to understand that, what social traits and drugs are they the result of?
The evolution of our society will not stop, these will not be the last such problems we will face. Social learning is another of the various kinds of insurance we need, which produces people much more aware of everyone and their problems, and willing to help because people have always helped them.
Loving your neighbor is the price of peace in a modern high-technology world where individuals can cause great harm.
People who are loved and respected and have good futures are good neighbors. We have played negative sum games of empire, have produced by our stupid acts each and every one of the people who now wish us harm. It was all predictable and many predicted it. Time to use different strategies, negative sum has not worked.
*Practicing my thinking like an oligarch here : One approach would be to invested wisely in the Irish Catholic church, perhaps the right monastery could be made available to them, solving both security and branding problems. Give the monastery a nice cut of the profits for beginning to distribute wine “made with a yeast passed down through the centuries”, it would be revealed that at long last the church leadership convinced the members to begin selling it commercially, and that the monastery had been well-known in the church for centuries for the mild psychedelic effects its wine and beer produced, and the distilled spirits for the very un-mild psychedelic effects, Popes have sworn by the theological insights produced. Quotes from people like Hildegard Von Bingen certainly would support that claim. Wonder what an endorsement from the Pope costs? Of course he would do it, the poor children he could feed, the churches that could become part of their communities again, it is just a matter of price, needs a delicate touch with the right cardinal to make it happen.
Added later. This guy considers the case of homebrew bioweapons and says ‘hell no’. His barriers do not seem so insurmountable to me. Suppose my incubator was someone’s armpit, and the instructions were “If you begin feeling sick, take the cash and go to the whorehouse that the Americans use”. That would be an integrated-development-deployment model of bioweapons research, quite primitive, not something anyone would actually ever think of, of course.
Added yet later. This is an interesting use of yeast in industrial production of artifical sugar, and note they used a version of my ‘oligarch thinking’ in the advertising.