Last year, IBM’s Watson, an artificial intelligence, understood natural language well enough to whip the human champion Ken Jennings on Jeopardy. As we write this, soldiers with bionic limbs are returning to active duty, and autonomous cars are driving down our streets. Yet most of these advances are small in comparison with the great leap forward currently under way in the biosciences—a leap with consequences we’ve only begun to imagine…
Excerpt from Politico – “The pending sale of a major American gene-mapping company to a Chinese firm is sparking yet another dust-up over what sensitive industries the rising Asian power ought to be allowed to dominate in the United States.
A key question — as it has been with Chinese involvement in aviation, cloud computing and telecom hardware — is whether there are national security concerns attached to allowing a company largely funded by the Chinese government to have access to human DNA being decoded for doctors, researchers and pharmaceutical companies.”
Is this a legitimate concern…or a red-herring argument designed to keep the average American feeling threatened by our (rather sudden) Chinese ‘competition’.
When I was a kid, we were told that the Russians wanted to nuke us all and steal our Levis…and well, we all know how true THAT turned out to be. Every one of the current news stories I read about China seem to have the same theme and feel to me…”Evil foreigners want your freedom, your life, your Starbucks, your Levis…your DNA… “
More from Politico - “A technical adviser to both Complete Genomics and BGI Shenzhen who supports the transaction suggested that raising the specter of terrorism and exploiting the national appetite for China-bashing is a cover for Illumina’s real motive — to buy Complete and achieve market domination for itself.
“They want to destabilize this field,” said genetics pioneer George Church, director of the Center on Bioenergy at Harvard & MIT and the National Institutes of Health’s Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard. “They do not want that kind of competition. If I were Illumina, I might do the same thing. But this is a beautiful illustration of why our politicians and CEOs should be a lot more educated about technology.”
Another article I found on The Atlantic presents a differing viewpoint,
“…Consider that the DNA of world leaders is already a subject of intrigue. According to Ronald Kessler, the author of the 2009 book In the President’s Secret Service, Navy stewards gather bedsheets, drinking glasses, and other objects the president has touched—they are later sanitized or destroyed—in an effort to keep would‑be malefactors from obtaining his genetic material. (The Secret Service would neither confirm nor deny this practice, nor would it comment on any other aspect of this article.) And according to a 2010 release of secret cables by WikiLeaks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton directed our embassies to surreptitiously collect DNA samples from foreign heads of state and senior United Nations officials. Clearly, the U.S. sees strategic advantage in knowing the specific biology of world leaders; it would be surprising if other nations didn’t feel the same.
While no use of an advanced, genetically targeted bio-weapon has been reported, the authors of this piece—including an expert in genetics and microbiology (Andrew Hessel) and one in global security and law enforcement (Marc Goodman)—are convinced we are drawing close to this possibility. Most of the enabling technologies are in place, already serving the needs of academic R&D groups and commercial biotech organizations. And these technologies are becoming exponentially more powerful, particularly those that allow for the easy manipulation of DNA…”
Read the full article – and interesting scenario of how DNA could possibly be used as a bio-weapon – HERE.
So…are the concerns real…or imagined..or maybe somewhere in between?
Are we being set-up to accept a war with China at some point in the relatively near future…or could their ownership of another American company present a true threat to our national security?
Personally, I think it’s the former – the American public is deliberately being condition to *fear* a Chinese take-over…and sadly, I have a feeling that the propaganda will work and divide the people of this planet even more than they already are.