I have just returned from a reception where we were encouraged to network. So I talked to this guy who works at Lindholm http://g.co/maps/8g3k7

Lindholm is the a Danish island where you cannot go without invitation. The reason: Lindholm is the research facility for deadly viruses, so they have viruses that can kill of all of humanity, pigity, bovinity, and poultryity - actually most mammals. In other words: Serious++ business.

I convinced him to invite me. As you may know I work at the National DNA Sequencing Center: We convert biological samples into DNA strings on a hard disk, so obviously my initial idea was that we should sequence these viruses - simply because we have adopted BGI's (http://www.bgisequence.com/eu/) mantra: "If it is useful: sequence it. If is it is cute: sequence it. If it is tasty: sequence it." And ask questions later.

But I am actually having second thoughts: Not only because if you bring a sequencing machine (costing in the order of 200,000 USD) into the facility you only get it back after it has been through the incinerator! (you can get a copy of the data back through a internet connection), but also: If we sequenced it, my free software heart would encourage that we published the sequences online to benefit humanity.

But would it really benefit humanity? Would it not be better if the DNA sequences of these viruses were kept between trusted people, so that a wacko dictator would not be able generate the viruses from the DNA sequences? Maybe it would be even better if we did not sequence the viruses at all, so no one were tempted to give a copy to the wacko dictator?

What do yo think?
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