My Thoughts Exactly

DNA Robots — another “Acts” technology sighting

According to this release from the BioDesign Institute at Arizona State University,

A team of scientists from Columbia University, Arizona State University, the University of Michigan, and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) have programmed an autonomous molecular “robot” made out of DNA to start, move, turn, and stop while following a DNA track.

The development could ultimately lead to molecular systems that might one day be used for medical therapeutic devices and molecular-scale reconfigurable robots—robots made of many simple units that can reposition or even rebuild themselves to accomplish different tasks.

Or for creating the Overmind and repairing and reanimating the thawing head of Fred Christ, the frozen god, according to diabolical villain Monty Meekman, the power behind the throne at Digital Microsystems, Inc., and chancellor of the University of New Kent, as chronicled in my famous novel Acts of the Apostles and famous novella The Pains.

Posted in I Fear These Things, Memology, My Thoughts Exactly, Wetware | Also tagged , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Wetware and Hard Science

The human genome sequence’s 10th anniversary collided with the invalidation of a major DNA patent

The US patent office has made it very clear that purified DNA is not the same, in their view, as the DNA in each of our cells. Myriad Genetics used this ruling to put a choke hold on medical tests for BRCA1, which was first identified not as a gene, but as a region of Chromosome 7 associated with susceptibility to breast and ovarian cancer (review, 1993). The gene was later cloned, a patent issued, and the patent rights ended up licensed from, near as I can tell without going into it deeply, the University of Utah to Myriad Genetics. Knowing whether a patient has BRCA1 has strong implications in deciding the right course of patient care for breast cancer, both in treatment of the disease and in screening. It’s one small example of the potential for personalized medicine, and it was in the hands of one company.

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Posted in General, Wetware and Hard Science | Also tagged | 2 Comments (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

Getting back to our paranoid rootz: The Palfrey “suicide”

My original vision for Wetmachine was that it would be kind of an anti-Boing-Boing: a technology-themed site full of fear and dread, skeptical of the notion of “progress” and paranoid about machines from nanoscopic brain-rearrangers to the DNA-sniffing, face-recognizing satellites in the sky– the Overmind emergent. Then of course 9/11 changed everything.

I’m sorry, that was a joke.

Or no, actually it wasn’t. For what’s the point of a half-joking technoparanoia site when Dick Cheney is in the White House? What I’m trying to say is, do you think the “D.C. Madam” killed herself, or do you think she was suicided?

By the way, that’s a link to the site “Infowars.com”, where the motto is, “Because there is a war on for your mind”. That site, like its sister site Prison Planet, represent the deepest fears of my fellow Wetmechiners about what Sundman may turn our little site into if he ever sets free his technoparanoiac demons. I guess with Infowars and Prison Planet out there, there’s no need for me to go nutz on Wetmachine. (But Harold, Greg, Howard: Watch out! The first danger sign is when he starts to talk about himself in the third person!).

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Posted in I Fear These Things, My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , , , | Comments closed

My Thoughts Exactly

Link your brain to the brain of megacorporation, inc

Via Slashdot, more happy news about neuromarketing (kissing cousin of neuroeconomics), that is, reading your brain to see how you respond to advertising and what you’re thinking about when you decide to buy or not buy any old thing.

Yesterday in the Boston Globe (too lazy to find link) there was a story about law enforcement passively collecting DNA without a warrant by following around suspects and, for example, picking up discarded cigarette butts.

Not hard to imagine marrying these two trends. On the other hand I’m just a technoparanoid.

Posted in I Fear These Things, My Thoughts Exactly | Also tagged , | Comments closed

Wetware and Hard Science

DNA, it's not just for genetics any more

Technology Review has an article about a paper in Public Library of Science Biology titled Solid-State, Dye-Labeled DNA Detects Volatile Compounds in the Vapor Phase. In other words, DNA is being used as just a polymer, not the Stuff of Life. Why is this cool?

No self-respecting molecular biologist would have thought of this. Instead, a systems neuroscientist working on creating an electronic nose was thinking on the problem of sensor development. The nose worked on biological principles, identifying odors not by specific sensors (as with a CO2 sensor), but rather by the patterns of activity on an array of sensors. They were working with sensors made of polymers doped with compounds with fluorescent properties that would change in the presence of specific, target odorant molecules. Developing new sensors has been a completely empirical process for anyone in the electronic nose business. How to speed it up? DNA.

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Posted in Wetware, Wetware and Hard Science | Also tagged , | 3 Comments (Comments closed)

General Exception

Senators want to jump-start Gattaca

Ars Technica is reporting about a proposed amendment to the Violence Against Women act that would let police collect the DNA of everyone they arrest, just in case they are a sexual predator. What could possibly go wrong with that? Oh, you know, just fostering a future like Gattaca where genetics rather than actual merit is used to determine who advances in life. But then, merit doesn’t really play much of a role these days, does it?.

Of course, if those arrested by the police were to have their DNA confiscated, there are several rather interesting people’s DNA would now be on file… and perhaps even leaked out to the public. Who knows what could be turned up in that…

Posted in General Exception, I Fear These Things | Also tagged | 1 Comment (Comments closed)
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