Chris Chyba on biosecurity

Just back from a seminar on national security issues at Stanford University, where Chris Chyba gave an outstanding presentation on biosecurity. (Chyba’s nothing if not a polymath: as well as being one of the US’s top biosecurity experts, he used to be the Carl Sagan Chair of the SETI Institute‘s Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. There’s an interview with him on his work at SETI here.)

Chyba argues that the term “weapons of mass destruction” is more misleading than clarifying: the kinds of nonproliferation, deterrence and defence strategies needed against nuclear weapons, cyber threats and and biological weapons are entirely different in each. In fact, he says (in a 2005 presentation given at a Carnegie Endowment conference),

“…biological terrorism shares as many or more characteristics with cyberterrorism as with nuclear terrorism. And the trajectory of biotechnology is such that these similarities are only likely to grow—bio is moving closer to the “cyber” end of the continuum.”

See also a 2004 article in the IISS journal Survival here.