Truth be told, the world has entered a new age of technology where all bets are off. Even though there are governments and corporations that have much more power than the average person, technology has given more power to modern men and women, than their ancestors could have ever dreamed of. This means that the potential for disaster is now in the hands of more people than ever before.
That’s what James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, recently expressed in regards to modern gene editing technologies, though not in the same words. In his annual worldwide threat assessment report, he suggested that genetic editing devices like CRISPR will soon pose a “weapons of mass destruction and proliferation” threat.
Much like 3D printing, this field of technology has grown more accessible and cost-effective in recent years, which has given more people the ability to tinker with the building blocks of life itself.
Given the broad distribution, low-cost, and accelerated pace of development of this dual-use technology, its deliberate or unintentional misuse might lead to far-reaching economic and national security implications.
Essentially, his concern is that either someone will deliberately use this technology to create a bioweapon, or accidentally unleash genetic horrors onto the world. Other experts expressed doubt over this report, and suggested that we don’t have anymore to fear now than we did in the past. After all, it still requires considerable skill and expertise in multiple fields to create a bioweapon.
But the fact of the matter remains. Technologies like CRISPR are 150 times cheaper than their predecessors, and it would be reasonable to expect gene editing to become even easier and more affordable in the future. The kind of bioweapons that used to require vast laboratories and hundreds of scientists and technicians, can now be created by any individual with a limited budget and a proper education. As technology progresses, it will only become more accessible from here.
In other words, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Joshua Krause is a reporter, writer and researcher at The Daily Sheeple. He was born and raised in the Bay Area and is a freelance writer and author. You can follow Joshua’s reports at Facebook or on his personal Twitter. Joshua’s website is Strange Danger.