An interview by Italian newspaper L’Osservatore
Romano with Archbishop Gianfranco Girotti has set the
blogosphere ablaze. Sounding off on an assortment of “new sins”,
the high-ranking Girotti voiced his opinions about the course he
think the Vatican should be taking.
“Priests must take account of new sins which have appeared on
the horizon of humanity as a corollary of the unstoppable process
of globalization,” insisted the Girotti, coming off as a bit of a
“You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting
your neighbour’s wife, but also by ruining the environment,
carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments, or allowing
genetic manipulations which alter DNA or
compromise embryos,” the Archbishop continued.
Of all these “new sins”, it was unsurprisingly biotech and
stem-cell research that seemed to worry Girotti the most.
“Within bioethics, there are areas where we absolutely must
denounce some violations of the fundamental rights of human nature
through experiments and genetic manipulation whose outcome is
difficult to predict and control,” he said.
So, will Pope Benedict and the broader Vatican soon mimic
Girotti’s rigid stance on biotech? Or will they more carefully pick
battles and language? As disruptive new technologies continue to
add complexity to the moral horizon, the church will be under great
pressure to take a hard stance. Either way, we should expect hear a
great deal more from foresighted clergy, such as Girotti, with
growing concerns about the future of, well, everything.
Nuclear weapons are sooo 20th century. If you want to bring
annihilation to the planet for not conforming to whatever depraved
idealism you aspire to, there will soon be many much more
interesting ways to do it. Unlike nukes, these technologies won’t
be reserved for elite governments.
Nanotechnology presents the most possibilities. How about using
self replicating nanoscopic robots to turn everything on the planet
into grey goo? This kind of destruction would be so effective that
nothing would remain of the present world. Perhaps this kind of
disaster has already happened in our history? As there would be no
evidence, we would never know!
However, for many supervillians or religious fanatics,
disassembling us to our core molecules just wouldn’t be fulfilling
enough. Fear not, the destructive power of nanotechnology is
limited only by our imaginations.
What about swarms of predatory nanobots, programmed to hunt down
and kill “non-believers” and kill them in any manner of ways –
asphyxiation, crushing, burning, or simply tearing them apart?
Having a non-solid physical presence they would be virtually
impossible to catch and destroy.
Nano-assemblers, machines capable of manufacturing anything with
atomic precision out of basic molecules such as carbon, look set to
change the entire world as we know it. They would put an end to
world hunger, propel the entire world into luxury, and have untold
effects on the economy. Or, they could be used to undermine
security measures, creating weapons in volatile scenarios, thus
reversing power balances in an instant.
Imagine terrorists gaining access to the Whitehouse unarmed,
only to fabricate guns once inside. Or an entire country arming
every citizen within hours before going on a worldwide rampage?
With nano-assemblers, the rules of supply, laws of transportation,
and manufacturing limitations are turned on their head. As such,
any controls put in place to limit armourment are undermined in an
One of the most exciting areas of 'Nano-bio' research is the engineered integration of 'wet' and 'dry' nanoscale systems that might revolutionize research in genetics and proteomics (Study of Proteins). But how do you explain this breaking down the barriers of biological and human-made systems? Through 3D animation videos on YouTube, of course!