Showing posts from May, 2009

Science Insurance instead of Precautionary Principle

Perhaps we should have "science insurance", instead of the "Precautionary Principle".

"You want to do a nuclear fission chain reaction experiment - but you don't think it will *really* destroy the world? OK, we set the potential damages at $1 x 10^16, and an independent panel of experts reviewing your research sets the probability that you are incorrect at around 1 x 10^-8 - so pay $100 million up front."

"No refunds if you're correct - the money will be spent on amelioration (e.g. efforts to get humanity off the planet)."

"Your biological experiment would only cause $1 x 10^12 in damages? We agree with your projection of 99.9999% certainty it won't. So pay $1 million and go ahead."

"What's that? You say you can add some controls that will reduce the chance from 1 in a million to 1 in a hundred million? OK, if you can do that, the cost drops to $20,000. Why not $10,000? You should have come up with better saf…