Lifeboat News #30


Lifeboat News

This issue published on 10/01/05. Copyright 2005 Lifeboat Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

Scientific Advisory Board News

Ray Kurzweil has joined the Lifeboat Foundation Scientific Advisory Board.
Ray Kurzweil was the principal developer of the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first CCD flat-bed scanner, the first text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. Ray has successfully founded and developed nine businesses in OCR, music synthesis, speech recognition, reading technology, virtual reality, financial investment, cybernetic art, and other areas of artificial intelligence. All of these technologies continue today as market leaders. Ray's web site,, is a leading resource on artificial intelligence.
Ray Kurzweil was inducted in 2002 into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, established by the U.S. Patent Office. He received the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize (view the video at, the nation's largest award in invention and innovation. He also received the 1999 National Medal of Technology, the nation's highest honor in technology, from President Clinton in a White House ceremony. Ray has also received scores of other national and international awards, including the 1994 Dickson Prize (Carnegie Mellon University's top science prize), Engineer of the Year from Design News, Inventor of the Year from MIT, and the Grace Murray Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery. Ray has received twelve honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents. He has received seven national and international film awards.
Ray's book, "The Age of Intelligent Machines", was named Best Computer Science Book of 1990. His best-selling book, "The Age of Spiritual Machines, When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence", has been published in nine languages and achieved the #1 best selling book on Amazon in the categories of "Science" and "Artificial Intelligence." Ray's latest book is "The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology", published by Viking.

Leading Scientist Calls for 1918 Flu Genome to Be "Un-Published"

"The decision by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to publish the full genome of the 1918 influenza virus on the Internet in the GenBank database is extremely dangerous and immediate steps should be taken to remove this data," says inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil.
The cause of one of history's most deadly epidemics was reconstructed and found to be a bird flu that jumped directly to humans, two teams of federal and university scientists announced in the October 7, 2005 issue of Science Magazine, as the New York Times reported on Thursday.
Besides the threat of accidental release of the reconstructed virus from laboratories, "the other potential threat comes from the availability of the full genome sequence, which has been put on the GenBank database," a condition of the publication of the paper in Science, said Nature in an editorial.
In addition, Science staff writer Jocelyn Kaiser revealed that "Both the authors and Science's editors acknowledge concerns that terrorists could, in theory, use the information to reconstruct the 1918 flu virus."
"I am calling for this genome to be 'un-published,'" Kurzweil proposes. "I realize that this is like trying to gather the horses back into the barn, but that is exactly what we should try to do. Yes, there have been valuable insights that have been gained from recreating this virus, but those insights can be published without disclosing the actual DNA sequence.
"The precise genome could potentially be shared with scientists with a need to know and who have been cleared by a security investigation and have signed an agreement not to disclose the information, with criminal penalties for such disclosure. In addition, I recommend that the Congress initiate legislation to prohibit publication of all such sensitive data on virulent genomes (the exact extent to be defined) on all U.S. government publicly available Internet sites.
"No responsible scientist would advocate publishing precise designs for an atomic bomb, and this information is even more dangerous. As Jonathan Tucker, a policy analyst at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Washington DC, pointed out in Nature, 'Anyone can order DNA to be made to a certain sequence.'
"We should take immediate steps to remove this information from the web and block any further publication of the actual genetic sequence to prevent its access by would-be bioterrorists," Kurzweil advises.
A more detailed article with references is available at

Third Space Tourist Returns to Earth

Dr. Olsen, entrepreneur and founder of EPITAXX, Inc. and Sensors Unlimited, Inc., said upon his return from the International Space Station, "The experience was more fulfilling than I could have ever imagined." He continued, "I have a newfound sense of wonder seeing the Earth and stars from such an incredible perspective. Certainly, through my training I was prepared for the technical aspects, but I had no idea that I would be flooded with such amazement and joy after seeing my first sunrise and sunset from space and the feeling of continual weightlessness. It was an unforgettable experience that I am truly grateful for and will relive in my mind for the rest of my life."
All Lifeboat Foundation members are eligible for a 5% discount with Space Adventures on terrestrial tours, zero-gravity and supersonic jet flights, sub-orbital space flights, and a $200,000 discount on trips to the International Space Station! Your Lifeboat membership will be extended by one year if you go on any of these adventures and will be extended into a lifetime membership if you select the International Space Station adventure.
You can learn about Space Adventures packages at