Hey everyone, welcome back to Bionic Bug podcast! You’re listening to episode 22. This is your host Natasha Bajema, fiction author, futurist, and national security expert. I’m recording this episode on September 23, 2018.
Next week, I’m heading to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to present my research on emerging technologies and weapons of mass destruction. This is the famous nuclear weapons laboratory where the hydrogen bomb was first developed. The bomb has also been referred as the “superbomb”. Today, we call them thermonuclear weapons. How are they different from the first nuclear weapons? The first atomic bombs were fission weapons in that they leveraged the energy released when atoms of U-235 split into two smaller parts. Thermonuclear weapons exploit the energy released when two atoms fuse into one, called nuclear fusion. Nuclear fusion uses lighter elements (tritium, deuterium or lithium deuteride) than uranium. This way, we can get much greater yield from much less material. The catch is that you can’t produce nuclear fusion on its own. You need a fission bomb to compress the material and produce fusion.
For all of you Star Trek fans out there, I’ll be getting a tour of the National Ignition Facility, home to a giant laser. This is the facility where scientists are studying nuclear fusion for the purpose of generating electricity. The NIF was used as the set for the starship Enterprise’s warp core in the 2013 movie Star Trek Into Darkness. I look forward to reporting on my trip, hopefully next week.
Let’s talk tech:
Two weeks ago, I spoke at an event called “Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction: From Threat Detection and Disruption to Response Operations” hosted by Noblis. My panel was on the future of countering WMD. It surprised me that we spent most of our panel talking about big data and the implications of our digital actions. To be fair, we were talking about the revolution in biotechnology that promises to transform society, business and government. But we were also talking about a growing threat—the collection of data by companies and even more troubling, by potential adversaries. I’ll include the video in the show notes if you’re interested in watching.
My first headline for today is an old one. “China’s Bid to be a DNA Superpower,” by David Cyranoski in Nature magazine in June 2016.
- China is buying up gene sequencing companies and collecting genomic data in a bid to be a DNA superpower.
- Already in 2016, it had more than half the world’s capacity to decode DNA.
- You may find this troubling, but companies in the U.S. are outsourcing the sequencing of American’s DNA overseas, in many instances, to China.That means that China has access to our genetic data.
- Now, you’re probably wondering why China is gobbling up all of this genetic data. In a word, precision medicine. This refers to the idea that someday soon, we’ll be looking at our DNA profile when we visit the doctor to identify the potential sources of disease and ailments and using that information to tailor medical treatments to your genetic make-up. There are other more ominous ways this information can be used, and hence the growing concern.
This data grab by China is part of a broader strategy. If you’re interested in reading more about how China is preparing for the new era of digitization, both in life and on the battlefield, I encourage you to read “Applying America’s Superpowers: How the U.S. Should Respond to China’s Informatization Strategy” in War on the Rocks by Charles Rybeck, Lanny Cornwell and Philip Sagan published on September 10.
That leads me to my final headline for this week: “China Is Rolling Out A Mandatory Program That Puts Tracking Chips In Every Car” published on June 14, 2018 in futurism.com
- “Starting next year, China will require all newly registered cars to be equipped with highly trackable RFID tags.”
- What are RFID tags? These are radio frequency identification tags used for tracking via radio signals. These tags can also contain information, identifying what is being tracked.
- Unlike a bar code, RFIDs do not need to be within in sight of a reader and can be embedded inside of objects. These tags have become incredibly cheap and can be used to track cash, clothing, and possessions, or implanted in animals and people.
- Anyone have EZ pass for driving on highways and paying tolls? Same technology.
- Many cars in the U.S. already have these chips. I saw a commercial recently about a teenager partying and getting caught by his parents because they bought him a new car with such a chip.
- The Chinese government is referring to these tags as electronic license plates and justified in the name of public safety.
Okay, let’s turn to Bionic Bug. Last week, Lara learned more details about the arson on her townhouse. Vik tricked KillerBot into clicking on an unsecure link and got an IP address located at an abandoned violin shop. Let’s find out what happens next.
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.