So, the first and most important rule of any super-secret science team working to create Godawful aberrations of nature for who-knows-what purpose is pretty self-evident: shut the fuck up and say nothing. So it’s both amusing and disheartening to hear that the fount of all super-secret military industrial complex conspiracy theories – DARPA – announced right in it’s annual budget – it’s annual fucking budget, I shit you not – that it is working on synthetic organisms that will live for ever and, should they turn out to be harmful, contain a genetic kill-switch. WTF? More info after the jump.
Wired magazine’s DARPAwatch section revealed this scary fact. Seems that the Pentagon is fed up with the “ randomness of natural evolutionary advancement” and has directed DARPA to work on creating fully synthetic organisms that will be immortal, but that will, should the highly predictable shit-hitting-the-fan outcome that we can all see coming a fucking mile away like a train with a massive headlight all the way down at the other end of the tunnel come to pass, include a biological kill-switch – allowing the organisms to be stopped dead in their tracks.
Of course, Darpa’s got to prevent the super-species from being swayed to do enemy work — so they’ll encode loyalty right into DNA, by developing genetically programmed locks to create “tamper proof” cells. Plus, the synthetic organism will be traceable, using some kind of DNA manipulation, “similar to a serial number on a handgun.” And if that doesn’t work, don’t worry. In case Darpa’s plan somehow goes horribly awry, they’re also tossing in a last-resort, genetically-coded kill switch: “Develop strategies to create a synthetic organism “self-destruct” option to be implemented upon nefarious removal of organism”.
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.”
Now, forgive us here for sounding a little thick, but it seems to me that there can’t be that many practical, non-weaponizeable, non-evil-plan-formed-in-a-secret-volcano-base things you can do with a synthetic organism. After all, they are not talking about building something that can do the shopping, mow your lawn, or look after grandma whilst you are out to make sure she doesn’t drop another hip or something. And quite what they mean by the “intended biological effect” we are not sure. But, after doing a lot of SCIENCE! in our brains, we are pretty sure that something that is living and breathing isn’t going to be a cure for penile warts or halitosis.
And it stands to reason that if the genetic loyalty built into this organism is intended to avoid nefarious enemy subjugation of the organism itself, then we are talking about something here that you would be designing to use against such an enemy.
So, one one hand, we have to applaud the openness of DARPA for telling everyone exactly what mysterious secret government projects they are working on. If only the guys with capture UFO tech in Area 51 could be so forthcoming, there would be a whole lot less tin-foil hat loonies about.
On the other hand…isn’t it about time they stopped screwing around with microbes and finally got on with making laser-toting dinosaurs and nuclear dolphins and all that shit? Man, they are taking, like, for ever. You may have the greatest minds in there, DARPA, but the internets have been ahead of you for years. Just hire 300 web-literate man-children and you will have weapons that would give any military leader a pants-tent like a flagpole. Then again, thinking about it, whilst this would give rise to armored space-jellyfish and power-armor wearing kangaroos, a weaponized Pedobear would be somewhat less awesome. Just stay away from the chans, is all we’re saying.
Read the full article here.