The Journal (Ch. 14) – Bionic Bug Podcast Episode 014

Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 14. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on July 22, 2018.

First off, an update on my fiction. On this podcast, you’re listening to Bionic Book, which is Book One of the Lara Kingsley Series. As you know, Book Two Project Gecko is currently with my editor. But you don’t know that I’ve started the outline for Book Three Genomic Data, which will carry on a theme in the series about DNA and genomic data. Even more exciting, I came up with the title and draft cover for Book Four this week. It will be called Black Box and will involve artificial intelligence and machine learning. I’ll provide a sneak preview of the cover in the show notes, so make sure you check it out!

  • Potential DNA damage from CRISPR has been ‘seriously underestimated,’ study finds” on July 16, 2018 at statnews.com
    • A sobering article about a new gene editing technique that promises to transform the field of synthetic biology, cure diseases, correct genetic errors and produce new products that improve human life.
    • CRISPR is an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeat. It refers to a gene editing technique that emerged in 2012 that allows researchers to quickly and cheaply change the DNA of nearly any organism.
    • The technique uses the Cas9 enzyme and an RNA molecule matching the target DNA sequence identified for editing. The RNA guides Cas9 to the correct target sequence in the genome where it cuts the DNA. After the cut, the DNA is repaired, causing the gene sequence to be disrupted or modified.
    • A recent study suggests that making such cuts in DNA could cause more havoc than previously thought. The study identified DNA damage including deletions of thousands of DNA bases, including at spots far from the edit. Some of the deletions can silence genes that should be active and activate genes that should be silent, including cancer-causing genes.
    • Geneticist Allan Bradley of England’s Wellcome Sanger Institute, who led the study, warns of DNA chaos as a result of using CRISPR. This reminds me of Michael Crichton’s Dr. Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park warning us about playing god with nature.
  • Since I just revealed the title of my fourth novel in the Lara Kingsley series, it’s only fitting that I shift gears to look at Artificial Intelligence.
  • Microsoft calls for regulation of facial recognition, saying it’s too risky to leave to tech industry alone” on July 13 in the Washington Post
  • This leads to my final headline. “How Artificial Intelligence Will Reshape the Global Order” on July 10 in Foreign Affairs
    • After the Cold War, scholars pronounced the end of history with the triumph of the liberal democracy as the form of government allowing for the most economic prosperity.
    • But AI is reshaping our world. By allowing governments to monitor, understand, and control their citizens far more closely than ever before, AI will offer authoritarian countries a plausible alternative to liberal democracy, the first since the end of the Cold War. That will spark renewed international competition between social systems.
    • We’re already seeing evidence of this with China’s eager adoption of AI technology to enable a surveillance state.

Let’s turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, Lara chases after Detective Sanchez and finds him in his office with her arch nemesis Commander Jamison. After a heated exchange between the three of them, Lara gets cuffed and spends the night in jail. Let’s find out what happens next.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the National Defense University, the Department of Defense or the U.S. Government.

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