As part of his promotional tour for his recent techno-thriller Quantico, sci-fi author Greg Bear was interviewed by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.
It’s a good interview. Bear spends a lot of time talking about a conference he attended with other science fiction writers at the Department of Homeland Security, where he was invited to talk to their scientists and department heads and tried to predict what form terrorism might take in the future.
What I like about Bear is how level-headed he is. He boldly predicts that within five years, any person will be able to buy the technology to engineer their own viruses and biological agents. But while some might panic at the thought, Bear insists we need to get that technology into our schools as soon as possible. He doesn’t let fear and paranoia shut him off to the nearly limitless good that such technology can do, both for America and the world.
Of course, he’s not blind to the dangers either. He mentions that cell phones in the future might have biological detectors build right into them, which can warn the person carrying them if there’s dangerous agents in the air. The fact that there would be a need for such technology is rather scary, but I’d rather live in a future where the possibilities of bioengineering were fully explored, even if that gave me one more frill to worry about when I go cell phone shopping.
I was skeptical when I first heard that Bear was advising the Department of Homeland Security, but after watching this interview, I find myself delighted that they are meeting with such level-headed and enthusiastic techno-utopians.Read More