Feb 11, 2010

I Will Not Play in God's Domain

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

Isn't the budget a little tight for the Pentagon to be throwing millions of dollars at creepy, apocalyptic, science fiction scenarios?

The Pentagon’s mad science arm may have come up with its most radical project yet. Darpa is looking to re-write the laws of evolution to the military’s advantage, creating “synthetic organisms” that can live forever — or can be killed with the flick of a molecular switch.

As part of its budget for the next year, Darpa is investing $6 million into a project called BioDesign, with the goal of eliminating “the randomness of natural evolutionary advancement.” The plan would assemble the latest bio-tech knowledge to come up with living, breathing creatures that are genetically engineered to “produce the intended biological effect.” Darpa wants the organisms to be fortified with molecules that bolster cell resistance to death, so that the lab-monsters can “ultimately be programmed to live indefinitely.”

A built in "kill switch." Well, I know I feel better. They're also going to program "loyalty" right into these creatures, so I'm sure nothing can possibly go wrong.

Of course, Darpa’s up against some vexing, fundamental laws of nature — not to mention bioethics — as they embark on the lab beast program. First, they might want to rethink the idea of evolution as a random series of events, says NYU biology professor David Fitch. “Evolution by selection is nota random process at all, and is actually a hugely efficient design algorithm used extensively in computation and engineering,” he e-mails Danger Room.

"I am convinced that God does not play dice." ~ Albert Einstein

And I thought this was freakin' wrong!

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has spent years developing a whole host of cyborg critters, in the hopes of creating the ultimate 'fly on the wall'.

Now a team of researchers led by Hirotaka Sato have created cyborg beetles which are guided wirelessly via a laptop.

. . .

They were implanted in the beetles when they were at the pupal stage.

Clearly I have been underestimating DARPA's capacity for B-movie caliber megalomania.

"We're science: We're all about coulda, not shoulda!" ~ Patton Oswalt

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