DARPA has announced plans to go forward with a little project called “The Safe Genes Program.” Sounds…safe, right? But, like many things the government does (Patriot Act, Affordable Care Act, Homeland Security), it turns out the program is the OPPOSITVE of what it sounds. The program is alleging to develop ‘safe’ ways to advance “genome editing applications.’ In case you don’t know the govgreek in that statement, what they’re really saying is they want to come up with crafty ways to be able to edit genes in humans, preferably little baby embryo type humans, and just see if they can produce a ‘better’ human.
Now, given that this is DARPA, which stands for Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, it’s fair to say this gene editing isn’t going to be about developing more self-aware, independent humans, but rather, humans who can do the work that gov needs done, to kill, maim, destroy, in the name of muh freedoms.
Here is the description of the program IN THEIR OWN WORDS:
The Safe Genes program aims to deliver novel biological capabilities to facilitate the safe and expedient pursuit of advanced genome editing applications, while also providing the tools and methodologies to mitigate the risk of unintentional consequences or intentional misuse of these technologies.
There are three primary technical focus areas within the Safe Genes program to help bridge the gap between the current technological landscape and the future transformative applications of genome editing tools and engineered organisms. First, researchers will design and develop the genetic circuitry and genome editing machinery for robust, spatial, temporal, and reversible control of genome editing activity in living systems. The second technical focus area will develop small molecules and/or molecular strategies to provide prophylactic and treatment solutions that prevent or limit genome editing activity and protect the genome integrity of organisms and populations. Finally, researchers will develop “genetic remediation” strategies that eliminate unwanted engineered genes from a broad range of complex population and environmental contexts to restore systems to functional and genetic baseline states. Overall the program aims to create a layered, modular, and adaptable solution set to access translational applications of genome editing technologies while protecting against intentional or accidental misuse of these tools.
Granted, this title may be a TAD hyperbolic, but really, not really. It’s DARPA. It’s fair to say supersoldiers are coming to a playground near you.