Vlad Putin claims the world is on the brink of developming of a new super weapon.
Vladimir Putin warned a crowd of young students that scientists in Russia will soon break the genetic code and create something "worse than a nuclear bomb".
In a shocking speech yesterday, the Russian leader suggested that his world could soon seen sci-fi super-human soldiers who cannot feel pain or fear.
President Putin said that science is moving at such a fast pace that the world is running out of the time to develop regulation around these eerie advances.
Genetically Modified Humans.
"A man has the opportunity to get into the genetic code created by either nature, or as religious people would say, by the God.
"All kinds of practical consequences may follow. One may imagine that a man can create a man not only theoretically but also practically.
"He can be a genius mathematician, a brilliant musician or a soldier, a man who can fight without fear, compassion, regret or pain.
"As you understand, humanity can enter, and most likely it will in the near future, a very difficult and very responsible period of its existence.
"What I have just described might be worse than a nuclear bomb."
War studies experts have written at length about this dynamic, the urge to develop an unwanted weapon out of fear that otherwise you adversary might get it first and use it against you.
Putin celebrating Guy Fawkes night wonderful.
Not possible. Essentially the entire "Systems Biology" push of the post-genomic era has been organised around the recognition that the informational paradigm suggested by late 20th century molecular biology (ie. that macroscopic organismic phenotype is substantially or entirely under the control of "information" stored within genetic material) is incorrect. The apotheosis of this paradigm is CRISPR- we now have relatively cheap, straightforward tools to selectively modify primary sequence in most organisms that we care about, but it occurs just as the recognition is cemented that this ability is nigh completely worthless without a coherent systems theory that explains how primary sequence is connected to higher-order traits.
Anyone claiming that -omics type work, CRISPR, or whatever, will be used to modify complex traits of interest to militaries (intelligence, reaction time, morale, or whatever) is ignorant or lying. We have no idea how to produce complex behavioural or even tissue-level outcomes from germline OR somatic modifications. We MAY see some deployment of highly specific modifications that are theoretically tractable under the old reductionist paradigm (the "systems" push has not produced any credible alternative) before the underlying thermoeconomic base required to produce these (molecular biology is incredibly energy intensive- not widely recognised) gives way. I am speaking here of some selective modifications to avert monoallelic diseases, introduce particular lineages of T cells targeting cancer lines, etc. We will not see supersoldiers, period.
Well, not understanding much if anything you've written, sub, I hope you're right.
I'm really much more worried about the killer robots, which may sound silly but are either just around the corner or, more likely, prototypes are already developed but not yet known to be deployed. Syri with a gun, coming up.
Anyhow, I'm not sure what a supersoldier would be. In the old days, you'd have wanted someone big and strong and stuff. Nowadays, ten year olds can be trained to whack your enemies with AKs.
What you want in a modern soldier isn't physical characteristics, but a combination of intelligence and pliability, someone who can think tactically but will not question orders--but this is very subtle stuff, which I really can't imagine genetic engineering being able to handle for many a long year. We're about ready to make people who glow in the dark, or who get sick and die because their cells are constantly secreting insecticides. Not really supersoldier material.
PLG- yup. The killer robots are here already, anyway, its just that they have remote operators. It's not clear to me that replacing a drone jockey with AI would either help the militaries concerned or make them any more terrifying/brutal.
MoS- an analogy might be found by imagining a world where a technology has been invented that allows one to seamlessly, undetectably edit the text of books at a distance. "Great," someone says, "now we can reform the Catholic church! We'll go around editing all the bibles, and then we'll replace papal infallibility, priestly celibacy, all that silly trinitarian stuff, etc. with something better!"
This claim might impress someone who is very naive, or is confused and thinks that biblical literalism gave rise in some direct fashion to each and every higher-order social phenomenon associated with the Catholic church. Anyone with a modestly sophisticated view of the church would understand that papal infallibility, celibacy, etc. are the results of historical, organisational, and social processes extending over thousands of years and that they wouldn't be altered in any predictable way (or even at all) simply by changing the underlying proof texts.
Essentially the same is true of biological systems- one of the great lessons of modern genetic engineering is that you can identify a gene that is involved in some higher-order process, remove it, and find that the process has not changed at all. DNA provides a repository of structural information for the cell, but it does not "determine" what is happening in any straightforward way- the developmental process and history of that cell, the three-dimensional organisation of its contents, the ability of biochemical processes to self-organise responses to perturbations etc. are just as important, if not more so.
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