Just implement a nice kill-switch, then everything'll be fine
By Karla StarrPosted 02.08.2011 at 10:10 am 11 Comments
Leave it to Darpa, the Pentagon's advanced-research arm, to bring synthetic biology to a new level of creepiness. For 2011, Darpa has dedicated $6 million to a new program called BioDesign, which according to the agency's budget is an attempt to eliminate "the randomness of natural evolutionary advancement" and create synthetic organisms for specific functions—for instance, microorganisms that clean up oil spills or skin cells that an army medic could use to repair injuries.
Stuxnet gives hackers a blueprint for sophisticated new malware
By Becky FerreiraPosted 02.04.2011 at 9:56 am 3 Comments
Computers already do so much of our work that it seems natural to let them take care of our sabotage, too. This might have been the line of thinking that led to Stuxnet, the first known malware worm designed to disrupt industrial processes.
Geoengineering could cause more problems than the global warming it aims to stop
By David RobertsPosted 02.03.2011 at 10:46 am 23 Comments
Engineering the atmosphere to forestall the worst results of global warming was once considered too hubristic to seriously contemplate. The grim prospects for passing an international climate-change treaty have changed that. Last year the National Academies of Science in the U.S. and the Royal Society in the U.K. both convened meetings on geoengineering.
Genetically engineered mosquitoes could even spread genes to other insects
By Becky FerreiraPosted 01.28.2011 at 10:44 am 6 Comments
As carriers for diseases such as malaria, dengue fever and yellow fever, mosquitoes are the deadliest creatures on the planet, responsible for millions of human deaths every year. And as the planet warms, the insects are broadly expanding their turf and bringing their diseases with them; thousands of cases of dengue, a tropical disease, have appeared in the U.S. in the past five years. DDT was long used to control the mosquito population, but it is now widely banned, and in any case, many scientists believe that mosquitoes quickly build up a resistance to the insecticide.
The last time someone could shut down the Internet was probably in 1969, when it consisted of two computers. But in recent years, concerned with the possibility of a “cyberattack,” Congress has been exploring such an option.