Pentagon draws plans for immortal ’synthetic organisms’Submitted by Liberty_Belle on Sat, 02/06/2010 - 12:25
The Pentagon's advanced research division has set aside $6 million from its next budget for research on the creation of "synthetic organisms" whose DNA can be altered to make them live forever, or die on command, and even keep a genetic record of what they have been doing.
In its 2011 budget (PDF, 522 pages), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency lays out its intention to create "BioDesign," a project to create artificial life, presumably with military purposes in mind.
"BioDesign eliminates the randomness of natural evolutionary advancement primarily by advanced genetic engineering and molecular biology technologies to produce the intended biological effect," the DARPA document states.
The agency says it wants to develop "a robust understanding of the collective mechanisms that contribute to cell death" so as to "enable a new generation of regenerative cells that could ultimately be programmed to live indefinitely."
But, if those organisms should malfunction or run the course of their usefulness, the agency also wants to have the ability to have them die on command, what it calls a "self-destruct option."
The agency also wants to create "tamper-proof" genetic codes, so that enemy forces can't reprogram the life forms to switch sides.
And finally, DARPA also wants these organisms' genetic sequences to "record" what they have been doing, presumably for surveillance purposes, "similar to a traceable serial number on a handgun."
Department of Defense
Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 President's Budget (PDF)