The Pentagon’s advanced research division has set aside $6 million from its next budget for research on the creation of “synthetic organisms” whose DNA can be altered to make them live forever, or die on command, and even keep a genetic record of what they have been doing.
In its 2011 budget (PDF, 522 pages), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency lays out its intention to create “BioDesign,” a project to create artificial life, presumably with military purposes in mind.
“BioDesign eliminates the randomness of natural evolutionary advancement primarily by advanced genetic engineering and molecular biology technologies to produce the intended biological effect,” the DARPA document states.
The agency says it wants to develop “a robust understanding of the collective mechanisms that contribute to cell death” so as to “enable a new generation of regenerative cells that could ultimately be programmed to live indefinitely.”
But, if those organisms should malfunction or run the course of their usefulness, the agency also wants to have the ability to have them die on command, what it calls a “self-destruct option.”
The agency also wants to create “tamper-proof” genetic codes, so that enemy forces can’t reprogram the life forms to switch sides.
And finally, DARPA also wants these organisms’ genetic sequences to “record” what they have been doing, presumably for surveillance purposes, “similar to a traceable serial number on a handgun.”
Reporting at Wired.com, Katie Drummond says the Pentagon is “up against some vexing, fundamental laws of nature.”
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.
Even if Darpa manages to overcome the inherent intelligence of evolutionary processes, overcoming inevitable death can be tricky. Just ask all the other research teams who’ve made stabs at it, trying everything from cell starvation to hormone treatments.ADVERTISEMENT
“And then there’s all of the ethical dilemmas involved in literally playing God,” comments John Funk at The Escapist. “But that’s only if the science actually works.”
John Oliver cites Donald Trump’s final offer for Greenland: ‘$200 and I’ll throw in Don Jr.’
"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver's favorite highlight of the week was, of course, President Donald Trump's decision that he wanted to buy Greenland.
In his opener Sunday, the HBO host said that he wasn't all that surprised given Trump's track record.
"Of course, he f*cking did. Of course, he did. Greenland is icy, distant and autonomous is exactly Trump's type," Oliver said, showing a photo of Trump with the first lady.
Florida teacher removed after bizarre rant about students not standing for the pledge
Students were faced with a white-board rant in a classroom attacking anyone not standing up for the Pledge of Allegiance.
The moment went viral locally on Thursday after students posted Daniel Goodman‘s “inappropriate” message to students at First Coast High School in Duval County, Florida, The Atlanta Black Star reported.
“THINK: We had about a half million Americans die in our Civil War, which was largely to get rid of slavery. There are no longer separate water fountains and bathrooms in Jacksonville for ‘white’ and ‘colored,’ as Mr. Goodman remembers from the 1960?s. We had an amendment to the U.S. Constitution allowing women the right to vote. We have had a Black president. The superintendent of Duval Schools is a Black woman. Mr. Fluent, our principal, replaced a Black man. Mr. Simmons, who now is a DC PS admninistrator.”
Angry Minnesota farmer bashes ‘insulting’ Trump comments that ‘we’re great patriots’ during his trade war
President Donald Trump has insulted at least one Minnesota farmer by his claim that farmers are "great patriots" who want him to continue his trade fight against China.
"This wound is self-inflicted, by our president," said Gary Wertish, who is the Minnesota Farm Bureau president. "We definitely agreed with it in the beginning. But it doesn’t appear that there’s a plan B. Some of the callous comments come, especially from the president, you know, that farmers are 'winning,' we’re 'great patriots,' that’s very insulting. That’s coming from someone who never has faced the challenges of a family farmer. I go into the bank and tell the lender I can’t make the payment because we lost our market? The banker is going to tell me you don’t have to make your payment because you’re a patriot."