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Personalised weapons of mass destruction: governments and strategic emerging technologies

Andrew Hessel, Marc Goodman and Steven Kotler sketches in an article in The Atlantic a not-too-far future when the combination of cheap bioengineering, synthetic biology and crowdsourcing of problem solving allows not just personalised medicine, but also personalised biowarfare. They dramatize it by showing how this could be used to attack the US president, but that is mostly for effect: this kind of technology could in principle be targeted at anyone or any group as long as there existed someone who had a reason to use it and the resources to pay for it. The Secret Service looks like it is aware of the problem and does its best to swipe away traces of the President, but it is hard to imagine this to be perfect, doable for old DNA left behind years ago, or applied by all potential targets. In fact, it looks like the US government is keen on collecting not just biometric data, but DNA from foreign potentates. They might be friends right now, but who knows in ten years…

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DIY enhancement: morphological freedom or self-harm?

by Anders Sandberg

Lepht Anonym is a DIY biohacker, extending her body and senses through implantation of home-made cybernetics in her own kitchen. (YouTube video of her lecture) Most of her work is about extending the sense of touch, using implanted magnets to acquire “magnetic vision” and (hopefully) an implanted version of the northpaw magnetic sense system besides the “usual stuff” of RFID implants.

She is critical of regular transhumanism, which she thinks is all talk. This is the real deal: “You just have to get deep enough to open a hole and put something in,” she says. “It’s that simple.” Of course, she has ended up in the hospital a few times. A new kind of self-harm all right-thinking people ought to save her from, or a valid form of self-expression that should be protected?
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