May 23, 2014

Brewing up risk for the good of all of us (except the ones who are dead)

Science foodWhen is it acceptable to do research that threatens to cause the disaster it seeks to limit?

My conclusion is that risky experiments like gain-of-function virology or geoengineering experiments can be justified if they look likely to reduce overall risk (especially extreme tail risk), their benefits would accrue to all who are also subjected to risk, and the experiments can be adequately monitored and kept proportionally accountable. Nothing too unusual.

The real problem is of course how to judge risks and risk expertise when we do not have all the data. Given the stakes, the value of better information here may be much higher than normally assumed.

Posted by Anders3 at May 23, 2014 05:38 PM