Seven years ago, I wrote a speculative paper for the foresight team in the UK Government’s Strategy Unit. It was meant to be a look at what we’d now call “unknown unknowns”, the kinds of developments that could take political leaders and policymakers unawares. One of my notions was that bioengineering could become a cheap hobby. For the most part, that’s great. As I’ve written before, we should be encouraging more experimenters and tinkerers. But policymakers understandably worry about the few deviants who might try to cook up something evil in their basement.
It turns out, it didn’t take long for the world of basement molecular biology to emerge. David Ng notes that you can have a home molecular biology lab for less than $1,000. From Homebrew Computer Club to Homebrew Molecule Club?