“There has been a bio-revolution over the past 10 years, with the convergence of science and computing and AI and data science,” said Luciana Borio, senior health researcher world at the Council on Foreign Relations. “And the acquisition of these technologies and tools has proliferated, and the barriers to acquiring these tools are now lower. And I think we’re in a very dangerous situation.
Daniel Gerstein, senior policy researcher at RAND, spoke of the “democratization” of the means of making biological weapons. Some of the manufacturing work can be done on a desktop computer, he said. The same technologies that enabled an aerosol form of insulin can be used for nefarious purposes, he noted.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown in real time how devastating disease outbreaks can be. If one started deliberately, it could be worse.
“Biological threats made possible by advances in synthetic biology make it possible to engineer pathogens that are even more serious, even deadlier, than what we find in nature,” said Jason Matheny, president and CEO of RAND. . “And the capabilities are accessible not only to state bioweapons programs that unfortunately persist today, but also to individuals.”
Lessons from social media
The same surveillance networks can detect natural, man-made or accidentally released pathogens. But making a difference remains a challenge, George said.