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Bill Joy knocked as 'conspiracy theorist' by tech zealot

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Uberthinker Bill Joy got a pants dusting on Thursday for saying technology has increased our threat levels and anything other than the free market can save us.

Joy, speaking at Stanford University said powerful technologies have increased the potential for a single individual to wreak widespread terror by developing and deploying powerful bio-chemical agents or by writing an economically damaging computer virus.

Joy, partaking in an AlwaysOn 2005 Innovation Summit panel discussion entitled "Is technology making us safer?", went on to say global warming and pandemics like Asian bird flue can only be solved using strong public policy.

"Political constipation" and partisanship in Washington meant Non Government Organizations (NGOs) are better placed to tackle these issues, Joy said.

"We have to race to find a way through public policy to deal with the fact... [that] a single suicidal actor has the power of the exponential to create epdidemics," Joy said.

Joy was warned of world-ending events before and his latest comments were enough to spark fellow panelist, author and speechwriter George Gilder into a counter attack on Sun's former chief technology officer.

"Free societies are safest when technology moves fastest," Gilder warmed up. "The reason the Soviet Union didn't control the world [after World War 2] was because we didn't control computer technology. People like Bill Joy could develop computer technologies that made the US the dominant military and technology economy in the world. Events will be made worse following Bill's safety first policy."

Gilder, editor of the Gilder Technology Report and apparently former US president Ronald Regan's most frequently quoted author, didn't leave it there, though, for the quiet, zany-haired Joy. Guilder tried to position global warming as a natural phenomenon that's happened before and is nothing to worry about.

"What worries me is people today who are worried about global warming. We have these real phobias that distract our attention. The best remedy for Bill's threat is very fast advances in bio engineering and pharmacology, and an array of scientific advances," Gilder observed.

Defending his stance on global warming, Joy said his views are based on consensus in the scientific community not "faith". He went on to support NGO-based action as a powerful alternative to action by politicians, especially those in the US.

"It makes you want to cry at how wonderful these [NGOs] are.... People come together across geographical boundaries. If the problem is in Washington, then the answer is not going to be in Washington." Joy said, adding he became managing director at venture capitalist Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers to help further good causes and beneficial technologies.

"I went VC partly because the political side is so constipated right now." Joy said.®

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