It's been a long time since a Pentagon project from the DARPA labs truly evoked a "WTF DARPA?!" response, but our collective jaw dropped when we saw the details on a project known as BioDesign. DARPA hopes to dispense with evolutionary randomness and assemble biological creatures, genetically programmed to live indefinitely and presumably do whatever their human masters want. And, Wired's Danger Room reports, when there's the inevitable problem of said creatures going haywire or realizing that they're intelligent and have feelings, there's a planned self-destruct genetic code that could be triggered.
Unsurprisingly, molecular biologists have weighed in with huge caveats and raised fingers of objection. First, they say that DARPA has the wrong idea about hoping to overcome evolution's supposed randomness, and that evolution really represents a super-efficient design algorithm. Then there's the problem of guaranteeing immortal life for any biological creature in the first place -- just look here and here at some really smart people who have yet to find that fountain of youth.
DARPA has committed just a piddling $6 million out of next year's budget toward BioDesign. But it will also put $20 million toward a new synthetic biology program and give $7.5 million for speeding up the analysis and editing of cellular genomes. We're pretty sure that means the Pentagon agency hasn't considered a future where police "blade runners" help violently "retire" escaped lab replicants of humans.
"It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?" said Edward Olmos to Harrison Ford in Blade Runner, long before the actor morphed into the gruff but lovable admiral of Battlestar Galactica. Never mind even the experts, let's trust Olmos. He's helped hunt down replicants and save humanity from genocidal Cylon robots of our own making. Are you listening, DARPA?
[via Wired's Danger Room]
What a waste of money. Instead to win the war on terror, the US should rid itself of the use of oil. Switch completely to hydrogen which can be made by zapping water with electric current generated from wind and super efficient solar.
DARPA should be working on a "Manhattan Project" to create the first real realiable hydrogen car and super efficient solar and wind projects.
The things I would do as president... including a bill that that congress and the executive branch does not get paid at all if the budget is not balanced...Either raise taxes or cut spending....
There's still too much money to be made off of Oil, and unfortunately until we run out of Oil, we're still going to use it. :P Money and politics, makes the world go round....
Maybe next they will build a stairway to heaven, and everyone can go check it out to see if they really want to go there or to see which religion is wrong or right or to see if there is even anyone there.
The concept here is valid, at least. My idea was to ignore electronic force-amplifying suits because they're extreamly inefficient. Instead, harvest muscles from, say, a gurrila, place in biotanks, and attach the ends to an endo-skeleton. Insert electronic stimulators, and bam. Human in a gorilla suit.
completely synthetic organisms however would require a brain of their own. Then the question comes, not if they would revolt, but if they want to, should we let them? They won't be super-human, or atleast, not enough to revolt effectively.
On the immortality thing, that just means indefinite life-span, facilitated via telomerase genes activated, or constant removal and regraphing of the celular tissue. They can be killed, but they won't just die on their own. I think this is a great use of money.
How is biological evolution "efficient" if it has to try everything out in realtime? That's absurd. Simultaneously, social standards of "fitness" are not necessarily the ones that biological evolution actually encourages (read: individuals who breed a lot, then die.) And we're not actually talking about human evolution in the first place, are we?
In any case, I'm as terrified as anyone at the seeming application of this research, but I'm equally thrilled that someone is at least *doing* the research, for whatever ends. Dystopian chaos is certainly one possibility, but it's only one possibility. = )
It's just that the article is so damned vague that we may as well be saying "DARPA is doing bioscience," and then trails off into fears of what will be required to appease our new robot overlords. In reality, there's nothing particularly insidious about moving the creating-artificial-organisms-for-specific-tasks industry up to the multicellular level. Even if we're talking about something with the complexity of a human being ... well, ethical issues come into play, certainly, but it's nothing that artificial intelligence research isn't trying to do already, and those ethical issues can't well be dealt with without doing the research first. I mean, this is really, seriously, absurdly, science fiction at this point.
Could this be the 1st step to one of those aweful scifi pictures about the future where humans become extinct.
I've been reading Popular Science since I was ten. I think you guys should sit all your writers and editorial staff down in one room and decide if you want to let phrases like "WTF?" into your otherwise fine magazine. A parent may see that and decide that PopSci is another one of the hundreds of things they need to filter out of their children's lives...
Has anyone learned from all those movies, shows, and books that talk about the unethical premise of such an idea...
you have a valid point....but i think the fact that popsci uses such phrases portrays their unique nerdiness.
and to the DARPA idea...ROFL
I agree with you. I'm not offended by the remark at all. On the other hand, if my MOTHER had seen such remarks when I was in grade school (and the f-bomb in other PopSci articles), I might never been exposed and become a lifelong fan.
Eyeballs = $$ and the competition has never been greater. I love this mag and would be very sad if it ever folded.
Creating life from lifelessness.Fascinating. How do we program morality and compassion since most people have very little? The human race will make terrible gods creating life from our limited intelligence and of all our imperfections. The one true God who is PERFECT made mankind in HIS image and look what happened to us. Be scared be very, very scared!!
I agree with buckrodgers. The "human touch" may prove too diffucult for an autonimous autinimaton to grasp.
The reality is DARPA is rapidly trying to play God. Next will come bioengineered enhanced bipeds. Read Dune etc. boys and girls.
Everyone that has made a comment on this article is very ignorant and has missed the point of DARPA.
DARPA does not create these inventions. They just prove they can work or not work. DARPA was created after Sputnik. The military never wanted to be caught off guard again. So they get smart creative people together come up with stuff before anyone else. DARPA needs to come up with these things before someone else does. Like China or Iran or North Korea. Or... Canada lol!
Mass Effect's Geth anyone? Don't want to end up like the Quarians...
In this case, WTF stands for "What the Frak?"
Well making living slaves is very scary and will not happen, because people will fight about the old questions that are un clear. 1 If they are alive then they have souls and a after life? The answer does not matter because if enough people (or rights groups think they do) then they will at some point be set free, now the live forever so what to do with them now? on the other hand if not set free they will be made smarter so they can do harder jobs that take more thought, meaning at some point they will become aware they are just our toys and any living thing is not wanting to be a slave so at some point they will stand up for there selfs in some way, every race has tried having slaves and it has never worked in the long run. If you want to play god use your own body to test it, don't involve the public by making monster/creatures that are described above as stopping the evolutionary randomness of genetic makeup, evolution is made over millions of years of the weak dying and the strong breeding, yet your company's lab can make a perfect species on the first try, lol ya right! THIS WILL BE A IMMORTAL PROBLEM due to that fact they wont die and if we got cat dog and bird lovers we will have creature lovers stopping the plug (or kill switch) from being touched
Ps. Sorry about the typo's I am in a hurry.
No they do not prove they can work. They sit around and pick an idea out of the sky regardless of how unrealistic they are (IE watch/read "insert mainstream science fiction title here")and offer to throw money at it if some private or higher learning entity is able to make said WAI work. They were created for the reasons you mentioned and renamed 3 or 4 times from ARPA to DARPA and back again. But they are a bunch of high paid intellectuals sitting around hitting a bong and writing the first thing that comes to mind. Then saying "Hey lets spend 50 million dollars on this if someone could make it work."
High pay to hit the Bong? Where do I sign up?
I learned this in science class this year: there actually is an organisim that is biologicaly "Immortal". It's called the hydra and it's a tiny wormlike creature that lives in ponds.
More Human, then Human.
Tyrell Corp. Slogan (Blade Runner)
Shades of the TV series Battlestar Galactica and the new series Caprica. This concept seems far fetched for most I am sure, but like the old saying goes; if we can dream it, we can do it. There may be an off switch on these man made beings, but in time I am sure they would find a way to disable it.
is this not popsci ? not scifi ? our us government can't run a 'ho' house and turn a profit. (mustang ranch Nevada) we must look to ourselves for solutions to our problems not the government or worse FREE ENTERPRISE .both are going to screw you and charge extra for the vaseline.
I think you got it backwards ... Man made GOD in his own image ... not the other way around.
BladeRunner and BattleStar -- Phhtttt ... such puny robot stuff ...
Beserkers (Fred Saberhagen) .. now there are some robots run amok to write home about (hopefully before they get there).
DARPA really needs to pick up a comic book. Remember how well Doomsday worked out? And we don't even have Superman to save us.
ASIMOV; The Three Laws and the Universal Law.
I, Robot; the book was nothng like the Movie. Susan Calvin was a long running Roboticist in the books, human and caring and capable of creating an Artificial intelligence from a platinum-iridium sponge (uhmm insert graphene transistors at 15nm on a nanotube sponge). Teaching a computer to function is a matter of program. If the program is written without errors, no problem. If the program isn't correctly designed, no matter if the coding errors are cleared, many eroors..errerss...eroro-, mistakes will happen. Call it the Porkfull Pig syndrome in honor of our M$ bloated coding. good idea, too many errors. An A.I. would tend to become confused, kinda like humans, and we'd have to send the poor dumb genious to school to learn good behavior, like 'The Three Laws'. If DARPA or anybody could produce a (cy)'borg, or Cylon, it would take a long time to do it right, and thats the rub...can it be done?
'It's been a long time since a Pentagon project from the DARPA labs truly evoked a "WTF DARPA?!" response'. Concerning this one in particular, I can add nothing more to this save for my outrage.
The idea is, as shown in the many previous posts, far from new. If laws pass forbidding it here, it will happen elsewhere. Where would you prefer that be?
Firstoff painfultruth dont steal my pic, second off the thought of an immortal creature/robot is divine, my goal in this life is to become immortal what better way to start