SECOND ANNUAL WORKSHOP ON GEOETHICAL NANOTECHNOLOGY July 20, 2006 Terasem Green Mountain Center Retreat Lincoln, Vermont CONSCIOUSNESS IN HUMANS AND ELSEWHERE Baruch S. Blumberg Fox Chase Cancer Center Philadelphia, PA , USA The issue that relates to this conference is that the easiest way to explain to others the complex mechanisms of environmental interactions of HBV is to infer or say that the virus or swarm of viruses has or have a plan, a strategy, tactics, and an intentional drive. The question is; what is the difference between, on the one hand, explaining the actions of an organism as exhibiting a plan, and the organism actually having a plan. My understanding is that having a plan is a characteristic of consciousness. If an organism is aware that it exists, than there is a “motivation” to plan for a somewhat predictable, but yet mysterious, future. It is a characteristic of sentient life itself. Does that mean that HBV has a consciousness? The Wikipedia encyclopedia defines teleology (derived from the Greek telos: end, purpose) as the the philosophical study of design, purpose, directive principle, or finality in nature or human creations. It is obvious that the search for purpose and design in nature hinges on the current and ancient debates on the nature of the designer, intelligent design and other aspects of the interaction of science and religion. HEPATITIS B VIRUS MORPHOLOGY Characteristics 22 nm 42 nm HBsAg C HBV DNA HBcAg Nucleic acid: DNA Classification: hepadnavirus type 1 Serotypes: multiple In vivo replication: reverse transcription in liver and other tissues In vitro propagation: primary hepatocyte culture and transfection by cloned HBV DNA Possible Outcomes after Infection with Hepatitis B Virus a) b) Anti-Hbs. Development of antibody against the surface antigen. Usually protects against further disease. Acute hepatitis. Usually a self-limited disease with complete recovery i) Some may result in fulminant hepatitis that has a high mortality rate. ii) Some cases proceed to chronic HBV infection with increased risk of chronic liver disease and primary cancer of the liver c) d) e) f) The carrier state. Chronic infection with HBV that is asymptomatic for decades. At increased risk for chronic liver disease and primary cancer of the liver Chronic liver disease Primary cancer of the liver Other serological reactions, i.e., anti-HBc, anti-HBx, anti-Hbe, HBeAg, HBV DNA, etc. that denote different stages of disease and infection “Hepatitis B is a viral infection of the liver. More than two thousand million (2 billion) people alive today have been infected with the hepatitis B virus. Approximately 350 million are chronically infected and are at high risk of serious illness and death from cirrhosis of the liver and primary liver cancer. Hepatitis B is preventable with a safe and effective vaccine — the first vaccine against cancer.” WHO website, 2004 The overall stratergy of HBV can be explained as a drive to maintain relatively high titers of virus in the hosts blood stream for as long as possible to increase the probability that the virus will be transmitted from an infected host to another person. It is advantageous to the virus that the infected host survive for a long time to increase the liklihood of replication and transmission of HBV. People infected at birth or early childhood may remain asymptomatic for decades. It is only after transmission have had ample time to happen that the infected person becomes ill with what is often a very deadly disease. The infected person is spared from death for a very long time to increase the probability of transmission. BIOLOGICAL MECHANISMS FOR TRANSMISSION OF HBV 1. Transmission from an infected mother to her unborn or just born child 2. Infection of sibs by their sibs during childhood. 3. Venereal transmission 3. Other means of transfer of blood from one individual to another SOCIAL MECAHNISMS FOR THE TRANSMISSION OF HBV 1. Tatooing, a ritual common in many non-Western as well as contemporary western populations 2. Ritual circumcision 3. Exchange of blood between “blood sisters” or “blood brothers” 4. The use of “dirty needles” for drug injections, including illegal drugs 5. Blood transfusion 6. Renal dialysis and other medical devices exposed to human blood. 7. The sport “Orienteering” 8. Others HEPATITIS B LIKE VIRUSES Hepadnaviruses Human Gorilla Chimpanzee Gibbon Orangutan Woolly monkey Tree shrew (Kangaroo Woodchuck or Groundhog Beechey ground squirrel Arctic squirrel Richardson ground squirrel (Tree squirrel Pekin duck Great blue heron Grey heron Snow goose Ross’ goose White Stork Demoiselle crane Grey crowned crane (Stink snake Homo sapiens Gorilla sp. Pan troglodytes Family Hylobatidae Pongo pygmaeus Lagothrix lagotricha Tupaia belangeri Family Macropodidae Marmota monax Spermophilus beecheyi S. parryi kennicotti S. richardsonii Sciurus carolinensis Anas domesticus Ardea herodias A. cinerea Anser caerulescens A. rossii Ciconia ciconia Anthropoides virgo Balearica regulorum Elaphe carinata HBV HBV ChHBV HBV HBV WMHBV HBV KHV) WHV GSHV ASHBV RGSHV THBV) DHBV HHBV HHBV SGHBV RGHBV STHBV CHBV CHBV SSHV) (Items in parentheses have not been validated. Tree shrews were experimentally infected.) Understanding the biology of the virus resulted in the invention and development of a vaccine. The use of the vaccine that we invented in 1969 and that has been widely used since the 1980s has thwarted most of the means of transmission. HEPATITIS B VIRUS MORPHOLOGY Characteristics 22 nm 42 nm HBsAg C HBV DNA HBcAg Nucleic acid: DNA Classification: hepadnavirus type 1 Serotypes: multiple In vivo replication: reverse transcription in liver and other tissues In vitro propagation: primary hepatocyte culture and transfection by cloned HBV DNA Vinge, Vernor, The creativity machine, Nature, (2006), 440, 411 “In 15 years we are likely to have processing power that is 1,000 times greater than today, and in even larger increase in the number of network-connected devices (such as tiny sensors and effectors). Among other things, these improvements will add a layer of networking beneath what we have today, to create a world come alive with trillions of tiny devices that know what they are, where they are and how to communicate with their near neighbors, and thus, with anything in the world. Much of the planetary sensing that is part of the scientific enterprise will be implicit in this new digital Gaia. The Internet will have leaked out, to become coincident with Earth. … The ensemble eventually grows beyond human creativity. To become what? We can’t know until we get there.” Verner Vinge, is at San Diego State University. He is the author of the novel Rainbows End that considers the internet of 2025. Consciousness implies self awareness. Knowing that you exist requires considering the past, present, and the future. Considering the future means that plans must be made based on past and present experiences and unfolding events. In desribing the natural history of HBV and its interactions with humans and other elements in its environment I spoke as if it had a plan, that is a characteristic of conscousness. The question is, again, what is the difference between telling a story as if the creature has a plan and it actually having a plan. I hope that as the workshop proceeds we will have insights into this question.