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Defending ourselves against self-replicating weapons of mass destruction

Larry Lessig has written an interesting piece for Wired 12.04, titled Insanely Destructive Devices. In it, he asks,

So four years later, were the critics right? Have we learned anything about IDDs? How have we reacted? And have our reactions made us safer?

Like many professors, I think about hard questions by teaching a class. So I asked a local genius, Silicon Valley venture capitalist and polymath Steve Jurvetson, to help frame a course around the challenges raised by Joy. He opened the class with the smallpox example and asked how a society should protect itself from innovations that lead to pox viruses with 100-percent kill rates. What strategies does it adopt when everyone, even vaccinated health care workers, are vulnerable?

Mr Lessig thinks about hard questions by teaching a class. I find things to think about by reading stuff on the Internet. There is much to think about in this one [via Dave Farber's IP list].

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