Interview with Patrick O’Donnell and Gavin Reese, AOMD Episode 028 – Natasha Bajema

Interview with Patrick O’Donnell and Gavin Reese, AOMD Episode 028

Welcome to the episode number 28 of the Authors of Mass Destruction podcast. My name is Natasha Bajema, aka WMDgirl on Twitter. I’m a fiction author, national security expert and your host for this podcast.

  • If you’re interested in science & technology, in reading good fiction, or want to write fiction based on technology, you’re in the right place.
  • Before we get started, a few notes:
    • The views expressed on this podcast are my own and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.
    • The AOMD podcast is proud to be part of the Authors on the Air Global Radio Network. Check us out at
    • If you enjoy my podcast and want me to keep it up, I hope you’ll become a patron for only two dollars a month at Patreon at – p a t r e o n / natashabajema
    • For only three dollars per month, you can get access to my new podcast. It’s called Project Gecko after the second novel in the Lara Kingsley Series. In each episode, I’ll be giving a brief tech news intro and then reading two chapters from my book. Basically, this picks up where the Bionic Bug Podcast left off. If you haven’t listened to that one yet, you can access all the episodes on Patreon for free.
  • Quick personal update. I just got back yesterday from a business for writer’s workshop in Las Vegas and a few days in Los Angeles. I got a chance to see Terminator: Dark Fate on the IMAX screen in Hollywood. It’s pretty good and what you’d expect for the Terminator franchise. There were some chilling scenes and moments in the film about our potential future as we continue to integrate AI into robotic platforms. Quite fitting since I’m now writing a novel about using AI to automate the early warning and command and control systems for nuclear weapons.
  • My headline for this week is “Weaponizing Biotech: How China’s Military Is Preparing for a ‘New Domain of Warfare’” published by Elsa Kania on Defense One on August 14, 2019. It’s been a few months since the article came out, but I’m highlighting it now because I’m about to launch my third fiction novel called Genomic Data at the end of the monthIt’s the third book in the Lara Kingsley series so if you’re interested in reading it, I recommend starting with book one—Bionic Bug.
  • Let’s turn to the article. China is looking not only to exploit artificial intelligence for the battlefield, but also its intersection with biotechnology. And that’s where genomic data comes in. Our genomes consist of about 3 billion base pairs of chemicals called adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G) and cytosine (C)—denoted by their first letters. DNA sequencing determines the exact order of the base pairs in your genome, but it also converts that information into code that can be read by a computer.
  • In the article, Elsa notes that the Chinese government recognizes the “the potential strategic value of genetic information”. It launched the National Genebank in 2016, “which intends to become the world’s largest repository of such data.” “The effort is administered by BGI, formerly known as Beijing Genomics Inc,” which has “a global presence, including laboratories in California and Australia. BGI has a range of partnerships with American companies, giving it access to the genomes of U.S. citizens.
  • Why is this significant?
    • Genomic information can be used to identify the cause of disease and potential cures, but it also can potentially be used to target certain ethnic groups or even individuals.
  • If you’re interested in these themes, I hope you check out my new novel Genomic Data coming out later this month. I’ll let you know when it’s available for preorder.
  • Let’s go to the interview.

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