Is there an analysis that estimates possible timelines for arrival of easy-to-create pathogens?

post by edoarad · 2019-06-14T20:41:42.228Z · score: 12 (5 votes) · EA · GW · 1 comment

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    19 Jan_Kulveit
    6 Davidmanheim
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Looking for a review of expected future improvements in synthetic-biology technologies and the like, and a resulting expected timeline for the capability of individuals secretly manufacturing pathogens capable of massive damage.

Answers

answer by Jan_Kulveit · 2019-06-15T10:22:35.332Z · score: 19 (7 votes) · EA · GW

I would expect if organizations working in the area have reviews of expected technologies and how they enable individuals to manufacture pathogens, which is likely the background necessary for constructing timelines, they would not publish too specific documents.

answer by Davidmanheim · 2019-06-18T04:50:50.071Z · score: 6 (4 votes) · EA · GW

I'm working with the FHI Bio team, and we don't have one, and aren't aware of any. At the same time, building the components of such a forecast is a to-do item on our list, and we have a number of ideas and leads on how this can or should be done well. (I have done some early-stage, very rough expert elicitation on the subject.)

If there are people interested in developing such a timeline with proper treatment of uncertainties, and working on forecasting tools and similar on the topic, I'd be very interested in chatting about how they want to proceed, working with them and/or supporting their work, and finding collaborators and resources for doing so in a way that supports other research in the area.


comment by Tetraspace Grouping · 2019-07-10T14:25:01.242Z · score: 3 (2 votes) · EA · GW

When I have a question about the future, I like to ask it on Metaculus. Do you have any operationalisations of synthetic biology milestones that would be useful to ask there?

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comment by aarongertler · 2019-06-15T04:19:47.765Z · score: 4 (3 votes) · EA · GW

This is very similar to the work AI Impacts does on progress in computing technology, but a quick search didn't turn up anything from them on synthetic biology. I'm not aware of any other reviews in this area.