The Most Dangerous Weapon is NOT Nuclear

The Most Dangerous Weapon is NOT Nuclear

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A breathtaking scientific revolution is taking place – biotechnology has been progressing at stunning speed, giving us the tools to eventually gain control over biology. On the one hand solving the deadliest diseases while also creating viruses more dangerous than nuclear bombs, able to devastate humanity.

What is going on?


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41 Responses

  1. Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell says:

    This video was made possible through a grant by Open Philanthropy.
    Check out the biorisk career guide from 80,000 hours:

  2. TREES says:

    Kurzgesagt, thank you for teaching me how to create a more destructive nuclear weapon! I’ll test this in my back yard now, thanks!

  3. Maria: Come Fast To Get Into My Body says:

    As someone actually working in biotech who also has a home lab it’s not that easy. Most organisms aren’t available to purchase especially pathogens. As for DNA sequences it is monitored and I’ve personally been called by the FBI WMD directorate and the International gene synthesis consortium when they were checking up on what I was buying even though it wasn’t pathogenic. So there are public and private watchdogs on all this stuff, plus making and testing novel viruses isn’t as easy as this video makes it seem. Especially if you need a lot of human test subjects. If you want to know where the biological super weapons will come from it’s rogue states like North Korea. They have the money, the human test subjects, the ability to hide what they are doing and leaders crazy enough to try it.

    Also a group of biohackers working with biotech at home made and tested the first successful Covid vaccine months before any corporation and published all their methods and results online. If Covid had been a much worse virus and especially if it’s delivery had been weaponized by targeting government infrastructure like the CDC and the FDA. They might have been the only ones to actually make a working vaccine. Mostly because biohackers are decentralized and can work a lot faster since there isn’t any bureaucracy and they tend to test things on themselves.

    There is a very real possible scenario where a state makes a biological WMD and deploys it strategically crippling the corporate and government infrastructure leaving only a decentralized network of citizen scientists to respond.

    Let’s not regulate them out of existence please.

    Edit – in reply to the comments saying how can biohackers make a vaccine if they can’t make a super plague. Vaccines are much easier, the first vaccine was made in 1796, it’s not remotely the same scale of work. It’s the difference in tech and infrastructure that you would need is the same as what you’d need to go from making a toy robot in your garage as a hobby and making an army of military robots.

    Vaccines are just a lot easier to make than WMDs because they are old and simple technology that works with the amazing power of your immune system where plagues have to work against that power.

    • Some1 says:


    • Clark Clements says:

      @Some1 Your profile picture kind makes anything you say irreputable.

    • Jake Hildebrand says:

      Nuclear and chemical WMDs are significantly easier to make and work with than a bioweapon.

      For example, a sarin gas WMD only requires sarin gas, a container, with spray nozzles, and a missile to put it on.
      Easy as pie.

      Additionally, the only truly hard part of making a nuclear weapon is acquiring the materials.

    • Captain Chicky says:

      Literally this lol

    • Juan Diaz says:

      There’s a bunch of porn bots on YouTube. This is probably one of them

  4. NightSkyCC says:

    I would love to see Kurzgesagt posters in schools. They’re so cool to look at and at the same time really informative. I know they’d start an interest in science in me if I saw one when I was younger

  5. Shade says:

    You can’t safely use UV lamps at home, they decompose synthetic and organic materials alike, producing often toxic or allergenic compounds. There’s a solid reason these are used in hospitals and other strictly controlled environments only.
    And air cleaner has little to do with your epidemiological safety, either. Most points of contact are in public transportation or other human activity hubs like workplaces and restaurants, not in your house.

    • AaronShenghao says:

      They specially said using those in home LABS. Not just your living room/kitchen.

    • gasdive says:

      222 nm UV is safe. It does cause photochemical smog indoors if there’s high levels of volatile organic compounds in the indoor air, but ventilation in accord with the current standards eliminates that issue.

    • Deathly Drained says:

      They never said it was the only solution, just that its a help

    • teiczer says:

      dDude, we use a lot of those to control coating of the materials with glue…

    • Lyokowarirtitan says:

      Home UV C is available to everyone, surprisingly cheaply, for central air systems especially. perhaps it is because of covid? I assume you are referring to something else?

  6. Nyet says:

    This video is the only video from Kurzgesagt which has left a from on my face after watching it. I have a degree in microbiology and this video makes it sound like anyone with a couple of thousand bucks and a microscope has the potential to create a deadly virus. Truth is it requires training, knowledge in the field, and expensive machines to successfully work on viruses (and most importantly SAFELY).

    Our current understanding of viruses is nothing compared to say, E. coli. It’s not as simple as using gene editing like CRISPR and replacing a couple of genes to make a super mutant. Simply, the most efficient way (and quickest) way would be to use human trials to select for variants that showed higher infectious rate while also increasing lethality, but that’s not something you can just do in your backyard…

    • Xsomono says:

      As far as I understood their point was that since biotech is becoming simpler to degree of specialization and expertise required to create bio weapons decreases every year, so while exceedingly unlikely today in the future it might be possible for people to create dangerous pathogens.

    • B Dog says:

      You have a degree in microbiology. So do tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of other people. Thus, the expertise exists among a large number of people. Their point is that the chance of a terrible outcome has increased exponentially, and that it continues to increase. That is, it’s not “that anyone could”, it’s that “anyone might”. And that opinion is shared by many experts.

    • ImANightmare says:

      Agreed, this video puts everything they do in a really bad light, the fact that they were able to get this much wrong/exaggerated, and explain it as fact when there is almost no evidence for all of these claims is dumbfounding. This video is about as realist as saying AI God overlords are coming soon and will rule the world, like sure its a theory, but theres still absolutely no evidence that this will happen in the near future its HIGHLY speculative.

    • K1mmo says:

      Like reading a news article about a topic you actually know a lot. classic. So it’s likely the same on every video but at the same time you have to crunch tons of information into a short video that everyone can understand and follow along. not defending but understandable

    • goinginarmoured says:

      PHD in over simplifying and under researching things. essentially misinformation.

  7. Drill_Fiend says:

    It’s actually nearly impossible to get DNA sequencing by yourself in a personal house setting. You will instead get a kit from the companies that do that, who outsource it to biolabs that take the sample and put them into the machines to do it. The reason cost is low is because those machines are now well automated, and the law of scale. You are still hardly doing yourself by on your own unless you are buying millions of dollars of equipment that only big hospitals and universities can afford.

  8. Nicholas Olson says:

    The #1 asset we as humans have is the fact that scientists openly and freely share their knowledge with other scientists.

    • Mister K says:

      Yeah I wish.. the reality is that scientists pay a shit load of money to be able to publish in big journals. Said journals then demand a shit load of money from other scientists that want to read it.
      Yes there are open access journals but they´re far and in between and they don´t have as much of an impact factor, meaning no more money from third party funding for the scientists.
      Srsly, the current system is hoing towards a singularity and needs to change asap

    • André Felipe says:

      ​@Mister Kfr. I could not access anything without my institution’s account because the price to read a single fucking paper is ridiculous. Corporate greed at it’s finest, capitalism finds a way to exploit even knowledge

    • Soft Black Underbelly says:

      @André Felipesci hub

    • Nicholas Olson says:

      @Mister K I don’t think that’s nearly as big a problem as you’re making it out to be. I’d imagine that subscriptions to those journals are much like subscriptions to Netflix, in that everyone in the scientific community at least knows someone who can share their password.

      I could very well be wrong, though. If I am, please Point me towards relevant information.

    • hawk 7886 says:

      @Nicholas Olson you are very, very wrong. It’s not uncommon for access to journals to range from $90+ _per article_ or a few hundred dollars annually. That’s just one journal.

  9. Bob says:

    I like how you show that there is a good end possible even as we all acknowledge the bad end that is also possible. It’s so important to remember that the future * can * get better, not just worse, so that our efforts can be directed toward a thing and not just away from a thing.

  10. Chris Farrell says:

    I would have appreciated more detail on what the real magnitude of the risk is here. We live in a time when a lot of people are massively over-hyping these so-called “existential risks”, and from what I understand of the field, individual biohackers cooking up deadly plagues is still the stuff of science fiction and it would be way easier and cheaper for terrorists to just use nerve gas. Not that we shouldn’t worry at all, and who knows where we’ll be in 30 years, but we have a lot of problems in the world today and concerning ourselves too much with some of this stuff (like runaway AI) just seems like fearmongering. I think basic pandemic preparedness, which apparently we’re still not doing, would be a much bigger win and we’d get a lot of these things “for free”.

    • Spavlia says:

      As someone that works in a molecular biology lab, this seems really far fetched imo. Definitely overhyped

    • Nieznajomy43 says:

      It is somewhat overheped but not impossible.
      Heracleum sosnowskyi can be good example of that, in laboratory tests this planet was considered good food source for farm animals but after being “realesed” it easily started to grow outside of designed areas becoming awful invasive specie.

    • The K2 Despot says:

      There’s no reason or excuse to assume we can just “figure it out as we go along” or anything similar with potential existential threats. The more we take them seriously _now,_ paradoxically the less we’ll have to take them seriously in the future where by then it may be too late.

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