For millennia, farmers all over the world have bred crops for their resistance to disease, productivity, and nutritional value. Over the past century, scientists have used increasingly more sophisticated methods for modifying crops at the genetic level. But only since the 1970s have advances in gene-splicing and other aspects of biotechnology upped the ante with the promise of dramatically improved agricultural products. Today, few topics have the power to inspire as much international furor and misinformation as the development and distribution of genetically altered foods. Is public resistance far out of synch with the potential risks? Please join us as Henry Miller, co-author of the new book The Frankenfood Myth, and Bruce Ames, U.C. Berkeley professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, address this critical 21st century issue.
To outsiders, its initials once stood for No Such Agency. To its employees, they stood for Never Say Anything. Today the public knows that the ultra-secret National Security Agency manages the nations spy satellites, but few know exactly why the NSA is the most powerful U.S. intelligence agencyor its roles in the Cold War, the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and Echelon, the worldwide NSA spying operation that, many charge, is illegally monitoring innocent citizens. No outsider knows more about the NSA than investigative journalist James Bamford, who began to research it before most members of Congress had even heard of it. In this talk, Mr. Bamford explained why he believes the NSA is a dangerous, two-edged sword.
Many people have wondered how technological progress will affect political, economic, and civil freedoms. With the rise of encryption software, the National Security Agency's Echelon worldwide surveillance system, and the FBI's Carnivore e-mail snooping program, this subject is no longer the exclusive domain of speculative thinkers or futurists, it is the subject of intense public-policy debate. Will privacy-enhancing technology improve faster than privacy-threatening technology? Should the government mandate privacy standards? Should it enforce contracts in cyberspace, or would private law do a better job? Economist, physicist, and legal scholar David Friedman discussed these and related questions about technological change and the case for and against government involvement.