PopSci has an interesting article on a DNA gun design from a UK security firm which could be used by security and law enforcement personal to shoot criminals with a DNA marker in order to mark them for later arrest.
*PS: My apologise for the slow updates lately.
A new report, released by The Greenwall Foundation looks at the risk, ethics and policy issues arising out of “military human enhancements” — including drugs, special nutrition, electroshock, gene therapy and robotic implants and prostheses. The report looks at the potential harms to soldiers themselves, as well as the potential diplomatic fall out of use of such technology – including the violation of international treaties on ‘biological weapons’. (via War Is Boring)
A couple of pieces on so-called “mutant” or biologically enhanced soldiers which may be of interest:
In The Atlantic, Patrick Lin ponders the ethical conundrums of enhancing the bodies of soldiers through drugs, implants, and exoskeletons. Interestingly, Lin references the Nuremberg Code and the Declaration of Helsinki as indicating providing clear limits against such experimentation and also notes the possibility that enhanced soldiers will be considered “biological weapons” under the relevant Convention.
At Wired, David Axe, looks at the possibility of such ‘bio-enhanced ‘soldiers becoming a reality given past and current interest by military scientists. Axe’s general conclusion is that interest is strong but technology is currently at a foundational stage. In regard to the ‘offensive’ use of biological intervention, Axe notes some pretty threatening advances including the use of targeted viruses.
The US Supreme Court is set to measure whether taking DNA swabs and samples from criminal suspects amounts to an unlawful search in seizure, in violation of the Fourth Amendment (source Wired).
The Age is reporting that a form of ‘synthetic cocaine’ is being sold in adult stores. I have my doubts that there is anything “cocaine” related about this new drug other than it being a stimulant which falls outside the Victorian legislation. This is a serious problem with attempting to control the use of illicit substances, as there are many ways to synthesise new drugs to have the same effect on neurotransmitter uptake or production to have essentially the same result as cocaine or amphetamines. Regulating the classes of drugs themselves doesn’t achieve much. This is especially true when we are talking about criminalisation which requires a specific list of “criminal vs non-criminal” versions of the drug so that therapeutic use of a derivative isn’t caught up. As for the effect of cracking down on this new substance, Paul Dillon, director of Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia said it best:
”What you are going to see is this will get a bit of media attention and it will disappear. Something new will come on the shelves next week.”
From the amazing SciShow channel:
Check out here for a quick guide to the future of recreational and performance enhancing drugs. Oh, and speaking of drug related science goodness, check out Wired Science’s Top 5 Recreational Drug Experiments.
For 20th century black widows it was the metalloid Arsenic, for countries at war it was the nerve agent Sarin and for Russian intelligence it was the radioactive compound Polonium. So what is next in the use of toxic substances to kill? Some believe it is the use of nanotechnology as a bio-chemical weapon – tiny little machines which target particular cell receptors or release chemicals once into the blood stream. Others think it could come in the form of synthetic life, as a result of so called “bio-hacking” of the basic building blocks of life to create virulent artificial viruses or self-replicating prions. Whatever the form, it appears likely that the future of murder through toxic chemicals will be advanced by scientific specialists and not greedy housewives, likely fuelled by government funding or private militia.