Robert Slattery is a writer living in Western North Carolina. He enjoys music and all sorts of other things.
Beyond The Manchurian Candidate
Social Issues – With the rising popularity of synthetic biology, the potential for hacking the body seems ever closer. The ethical concerns of this combination of science and engineering are complicated by the increasing presence and threat of information loss, manipulation, and control.
The approach, which sees human cells as computers and biology as systems, offers the potential for the control of lifeforms. Andrew Hessel of Singularity University states that the new scientific form is “the writing of life” and is “Growing fast. It will grow faster than computer technologies.”
The understanding of the science mirrors that of computer technologies in the 80s, a period where it was largely thought that all that could be understood about computers was understood. It was also a period where distinct, network-focused computer crime flourished. The possibility of manipulative viruses that infect and control our biological systems just as worms and viruses can take control of our computer is not speculation; viruses in fact do just that.
They are, however, organisms and do such as a means of survival. The possibility of targeted, man-made viruses offers up new possibilities of biological terrorism, potentially more complex and subversive than our current understanding. It is a possibility that has security experts deeply concerned. It is, however, only one of a number of possible outcomes of the growing field.
I know that I might sleep a little more comfortably if a Gibson, Stephenson, Rucker, Bear think-tank were formed to tackle the issue.
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