Navy Making Enhanced Bacteria for Tripwire Submarine Detection

A video of a panel discussion on the use of modified bacteria to as part of military-grade sensor systems.

(H/T Patrick Tucker of Defense One.)

The panelists discuss the power of biology. Synthetic biology is breaking out of discipline to impact other areas. We have to break out silos to look the potential for cross-discipline science and technology.

Avril Haines (Former Deputy National Security Advisor)
Robert Work (Former Deputy Secretary of Defense)
Justin Sanchez (Director, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – DARPA)
Megan Palmer (Senior Research Scholar, Stanford University)
Jason Matheny (Director, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency – IARPA)

Biotechnology is normally very far down the list of priorities for the Department of Defense. However, technologists in the agencies are trying to raise awareness of the potential rewards and risks.

There is potential for many lives to be saved from dual-use technology.

Protection has to be number one.

Bill Gates says the primary risk to ten million lives or more is either pandemic or bioengineered weapon. This is other than nuclear war.

One of the speakers thinks there is no reason for super-humans because there will be machines that take humans off the battlefield. Nextbigfuture notes that President Carter and others in the 1970’s did not invest in advanced bomber planes because they thought advanced missiles would make them unnecessary. Recently, Elon Musk learned that he could not put too many factory robots into his gigafactory and had to use more people. There can be overconfidence in getting humans out of the loop. Elon is trying to create Neuralink for ultra-high bandwidth brain-computer-interfaces to create enhancement to keep humans competitive.

Bacteria Reacts to Submarine Emissions and Creates a Signal Detectable to Drones

In past decades, the US Navy has trained dolphins for anti-mine warfare. Now the Navy wants to harness modified bacteria.

The Navy is looking to engineer the common sea bacteria, Marinobacter, so it reacts to certain substances left by enemy vessels, divers, or equipment. These could be metals, fuel exhaust, human DNA, or some molecule that’s not found naturally in the ocean but is left by diesel-powered submarines. The reaction could take the form of electron loss, which could be detectable to friendly sub drones.

Offense vs Defense Costs in Biotech

It can cost $100,000 or less to make a new Pox bioweapon. It costs $2 billion to make an antidote vaccine against the Pox. A lot of the cost is the clinical trial costs. We have to massively reduce the cost for effective defense.

4 thoughts on “Navy Making Enhanced Bacteria for Tripwire Submarine Detection”

  1. Can’t track ’em all; just make sure to be polite in a nuclear society.

    Also, those micronoses might save more lives by detecting disease early.

  2. 1-Does nobody had sit for a moment and think about the unintended consequences of releasing a self replicating organism in a natural environment, because this organism will react with anything in the ocean and this people will have zero control over that.

    2-Other nations like China and Russia will react to this creating their own organisms that can react with the environment,so this will become an bio arm race that could lead to creation of deadly super organisms or a environmental disaster.

    This sound like the start of an horror movie LOL.

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