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inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #101 of 112: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 28 Oct 07 21:24
    
To what extent is the policy reality you're describing a factor of the
current political environment. I.e. how much does this have to do with
the current administration's and legislature's strong corporate bias?
Could a significant change of leadership after the next election mean a
different approach than you've described?
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #102 of 112: Denise Caruso (denisecaruso) Mon 29 Oct 07 10:51
    
It's not by any means confined to this administration, although
they've raised the abuse of cost benefit to a fine art. There's been a
strong corporate bias in the White House for a long time. The emphasis
has been on different industries -- i.e., Bush/Cheney love oil and all
the big polluting industries, Clinton/Gore loved telecoms and
entertainment/the "copyright industries." A lot of heinous copyright
legislation was passed on their watch. 

I don't know if a change of leadership will matter. It certainly could
matter -- cost benefit can be very useful when used appropriately and
not as a weapon to keep change at bay, as I went on about earlier. 

But it *won't* matter if the incoming administration doesn't open its
mind about the realities of how it is being abused. Hillary is making
noise about OTA but frankly, I don't know what she means by it. Maybe I
should ask her. 
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #103 of 112: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Mon 29 Oct 07 11:11
    
Good idea; ask her to join us here on the WELL. *8^)

I like your question, in the book, about whether we're dreaming up
solutions in search of problems. I was guilty of blind technophilia
(and neophilia), myself, for quite a while, and I suppose I'm not
completely over it. How do we get technologists to think more
critically about technology, when they're in a persistent state of
excitement about some vision of a tech-mediated future? (This made me
think of Dr. Carrington in the 1951 film "The Thing from Another World"
- he was so psyched to meet a man from outer space that he ignored the
creature's appetite for human blood... and btw, the creature was
actually a vegetable, probably transgenic!)
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #104 of 112: Denise Caruso (denisecaruso) Mon 29 Oct 07 12:10
    
I don't think you can expect technologists to think more critically
about technology in the way that we're talking about here. They are
happy to think critically about how to make it work better -- but they
aren't so happy to think about how it might break. 

Nice work if you can get it; square peg, round hole -- the exception
being the terrific group of contributors that Peter Neumann has
gathered over the past couple of decades for his wonderful RISKS
Digest. (Full name: ACM FORUM ON RISKS TO THE PUBLIC IN COMPUTERS AND
RELATED SYSTEMS. You can subscribe here if you want:
http://lists.csl.sri.com/mailman/listinfo/risks.) But they are a tiny
fraction of the larger high tech community. Everybody loves the new
geegaw that's gonna make somebody (maybe you!) billions. Nobody loves
the party pooper who points out how it can/will/does go kerflooey. 

But I think you have to somehow convince them that it's important for
SOMEBODY to think critically about it, and to have a system that
imposes upon them to heed/respond to what those people have to say.
Especially with technologies like bio and nano that have the potential
to alter natural systems permanently.
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #105 of 112: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Mon 29 Oct 07 18:38
    
>But I think you have to somehow convince them that it's important for
SOMEBODY to think critically about it, and to have a system that
imposes upon them to heed/respond to what those people have to say.<

Some time back, a number of people did think critically about related
matters.  It is interesting that the emphasis was on checking the human
disposition to abuse positions of power.  I refer in these vague,
general terms to the writers of the Federalist Papers and the
Constitution that resulted.  I like the process orientation and lack of
idealistic rhetoric.  

Is there anything in the deliberations that set up the republic that
is applicable to the current discussion?
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #106 of 112: Denise Caruso (denisecaruso) Tue 30 Oct 07 09:38
    
I don't understand the question. 
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #107 of 112: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Tue 30 Oct 07 16:09
    
I was casting about for some precedent that may show some of the
opportunities and pitfalls.  There is some indication that the framers
of the constitution were trying to improve governance by having better
processes rather than by seeking a savior. 
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #108 of 112: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 30 Oct 07 18:01
    
Denise, are the issues in handling transgenic risk that we've been
discussing specific to the U.S.? What are other countries doing?
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #109 of 112: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Wed 31 Oct 07 12:58
    

I'm sorry to interrupt, but I wanted to note that over the past two 
weeks you've covered a lot of rich ground. I'm sure there's a lot more
to say, and even though we've begun a new interview in Inkwell, this
one doesn't have to stop. If you're able to stick around, Denise and
Jon, please know that we'd be honored to have the discussion continue.
This topic will remain open and ready for more conversation indefinitely.

If you have other things demanding your attention, please let me use
this opportunity to thank you for joining us and to wish you the
best going forward. 
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #110 of 112: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 31 Oct 07 22:34
    
Thanks, Cynthia! We were having such a great talk it didn't really
dawn on me that our two weeks were done.
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #111 of 112: Gail Williams (gail) Thu 1 Nov 07 15:44
    
This has been great fun.  Thanks Jon & Denise!
  
inkwell.vue.310 : Denise Caruso, "Intervention"
permalink #112 of 112: Denise Caruso (denisecaruso) Fri 2 Nov 07 11:56
    
Thanks to all of you as well -- I am always gratified to talk with
people who really care about these issues.  

Many other countries are doing more than we are in the U.S. As a
result of the kinds of public conversations on biotech that do NOT take
place here, regions and sometimes even countries have banned field
trials or are withholding approvals until they have more satisfactory
data on risk and benefit. 

In INTERVENTION (my final plug! ;) I note that as of August 2006, in
the European Union alone, more than 3,400 local governments in more
than a dozen countries had declared themselves “GM-free” zones. Unlike
the U.S., many countries require products containing transgenics to be
labeled, and they are monitored in transit and the field.

En fin, thanks to Cynthia for asking me to do this and persisting, and
to Jon and all of you for asking such good and thoughtful questions.
Please keep talking about these issues with your friends and
colleagues. Let me know if I can do anything in your communities to
help start more of these kinds of conversations. They're so important.

Take care, and as Philo of Alexandria said, "Be kind, for everyone you
meet is fighting a great battle."
  



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