June 28, 2012 — New research published in BMC Genetics shows that the rhesus macaque has three times as much genetic variation as humans. However despite much of this extra variation within genes, protein function is not affected. Consequently damaging variations are at similar levels in macaques and humans -- indicating a strong selection pressure to maintain gene function regardless of mutation rate or population size.
J Am Assoc Lab Anim Sci. 2008 May; 47(3): 64–67. Published online 2008 May. Abstract We describe a case of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus non-aureus infection in a rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta). The nonhuman primate described was part of a research project that involved whole-body gamma irradiation and subsequently developed acute generalized dermatitis with skin dryness, peeling, and erythema around the eyes. After initial evaluation, which included microbiologic culture and 6 d of medical treatment, the animal was euthanized due to concern regarding a possible outbreak of infectious or zoonotic disease. On the basis of skin culture, diagnosis of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus non-aureus was confirmed. This report underscores the importance of the occupational risk of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus non-aureus to research and animal care staff in a research animal facility setting. Abbreviation: MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection and colonization has occurred in various domestic animals, including horses, dogs, cats, birds, and cattle.3 Transmission of infection from animals to humans and from humans to animals has been reported.2,8,10,15,17,19 MRSA is more common in humans with severe illness, comorbid conditions, and immunosuppression.1 MRSA infection in a rhesus macaque in a research animal facility setting and showing signs of respiratory distress has been reported.13 Similar to MRSA, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus non-aureus appears to be an emerging pathogen in veterinary medicine. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus non-aureus species such as S. epidermidis are seen commonly in the human hospital setting and are sometimes even more resistant than and displace the growth of MRSA.7,11,16 This report describes an acute case of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus non-aureus in an immunosuppressed rhesus macaque whose infection was characterized by skin dryness, dermatitis, hyperkeratosis, and erythema in the facial area.
Case Western Reserve researchers pinpoint RNA element missing from viral vectors A research team from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine has discovered an approach that could make gene therapy dramatically more effective for patients. Led by professor Eric Arts, PhD, the scientists discovered that the process of gene therapy is missing essential elements thereby reducing the effectiveness of this treatment. Re-introducing this element into their model system suggests that improvements for gene therapy areon the horizon. The findings are detailed in the article, "A new genomic RNA packaging element in retroviruses and the interplay with ribosomal frameshifting," published today in the journal Cell Host & Microbe. Advances in gene therapy offer promising treatment for genetic abnormalities, tumors and resistance to toxic chemotherapies. Such therapy has been used to treat cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, muscular dystrophy and sickle cell anemia. But a failure to distribute enough modified genetic information to the patient's body has prohibited gene therapy from being more widely used. Gene therapy relies mainly on viruses—which transport genomes inside the cells they infect—to deliver genetic material into a patient's cells. The virus-driven delivery tools are called "viral vectors." Unfortunately, the success rate of viral vectors is uneven. For instance, adenoviruses, a cause for the common cold, and lentiviruses, such as HIV-1, are routinely converted into viral vectors. But adenovirus vectors don't last long, so therapy must be frequently re-administered. And lentiviral vectors, while stable, fail to deliver genetic material to enough defective human cells. Arts, a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine, learned that lentiviral carriers lack sufficient genetic material necessary for treatment. HIV-1, when converted from virus to lentiviral vector, loses a specific RNA element required to pack its "container" with its own genetic material to be effective. After identifying the problem, researchers introduced the element into a lentiviral vector, successfully and significantly improving the quality and quantity of the gene therapy. Arts and colleagues named the genetic element, Genomic RNA Packaging Enhancer element (or GRPE). During virus production, GRPE coordinates the production and filling of the container with the genetic material of HIV-1, or the desired human gene. Delivery and success of gene therapy for human cells has the potential of increasing five to ten times with the introduction of the GRPE into the lentiviral vector. "Using lentivirus for gene transfer appears to be a safe option," said Stanton L. Gerson, MD, director of the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Asa and Patricia Shiverick- Jane Shiverick (Tripp) Professor of Hematological Oncology at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and director of the Seidman Cancer Center at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, who is not involved in the study. "This discovery could greatly advance the recent successes ongoing in cancer and childhood congenital diseases. Improvements in the technology of gene delivery identified by Arts and his colleagues could lead to many more effective studies that help patients with many different diseases, including cancer. Its impact could be felt in a few short years." Ultimately, introducing GRPE elements into viral vectors could enhance the ease and effectiveness of gene therapy, which typically uses transplanted human stem cells. Enhanced gene therapy and other improvements in targeted cell delivery might eliminate the need for stem cells and allow cells to be administered directly into patients. ### About Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the School of Medicine. Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report's "Guide to Graduate Education."
June 14th, 2012 1:42 PM by Carl Zimmer in A Planet of Viruses, Evolution, Medicine, Top posts | Excerpt: “On rare occasion, a retrovirus may infect an egg. Now something odd may happen. If the egg becomes fertilized and gives rise to a whole adult individual, all the cells in its body will carry that virus. And if that individual has offspring, the virus gets carried down to the next generation.” My Comment I’m struck by the parallels with The Viruses That Make Us: A Role For Endogenous Retrovirus In The Evolution Of Placental Species by Luis P. Villarreal, which was brought to my attention by Greg Bear. Among his other excellent works, Bear wrote two science fiction novels that incorporated ERV-driven adaptive evolution, and pheromonal communication, which is as essential to communication in a new species of humans as it is in microbes. Pheromones, as we now know, are the chemicals that control nutrient chemical-dependent reproduction in all species. It seems likely that ERVs, including human ERVs (HERVs) cause the changes in intracellular signaling and stochastic gene expression that allow us to use olfaction and odor receptors in the clear evolutionary trail that can be followed from unicellular organisms to insects to humans. The HERVs, for example, need only alter a cell’s ability to metabolize nutrient chemicals (food) to cause downstream effects on every cell of any organism. The metabolism of the nutrient chemicals to pheromones does the rest in the context of adaptive evolution. For those who question whether there is sufficient evidence across species for transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, one need only examine the trail that begins with the nutrient-dependent ecological niche of organisms. The metabolism of the nutrients to pheromones establishes a social niche. In multicellular organisms with a nervous system, ecological and social niche construction contribute equally to the construction of a neurogenic niche (a group of nerve cells) that enables brain development, which facilitates construction of our cognitive niche. My cognitive niche, for example, allows me to recognize patterns, like the design in biology that is apparent in the adaptive evolution that results from ecological, social, neurogenic, and cognitive niche construction.
Abstract The effect of Hz-2V virus infection on the reproductive physiology and behavior of infected Helicoverpa zea female moths was examined. In the absence of males, infected females exhibited calling behavior and called as often but for shorter periods on average than control females. As expected, control females mated with males for extend periods when they were present and did not call after mating, while virus-infected females made many frequent contacts with males and continued to call even after these contacts. Virus-infected females were found to produce five to seven times more pheromone than control females and attracted twice as many males as did control females in flight tunnel experiments. The ability of Hz-2V to alter the physiology and behavior of infected females observed here may serve to facilitate the transmission of virus in insect populations.
Abstract A naturally occurring virus often leads to the development of an epizootic late in the outbreak cycle of the Douglas-fir tussock moth, but not before significant damage occurs to the trees. This virulent virus can be mass-produced in the laboratory and, when applied early in the outbreak cycle, can prevent severe defoliation. This, however, requires that an early-warning system be integrated with a virus treatment. The development and integration of a pheromone monitoring system with a virus treatment is described. Stands susceptible to Douglas-fir tussock-moth outbreaks are defined by overlying maps of past outbreaks, forest and habitat types, and climatic zones. Pheromone-baited traps are placed and monitored annually at permanent locations in the susceptible areas. Measuring annual trends of moth density indicates the time and location of the next outbreak. Trap-catch data provide an early warning of impending outbreaks. This is confirmed by ground reconnaissance. Insect density and defoliation is predicted from egg-mass and larval sampling. The virus then can be applied from the air or from the ground into threatened stands to initiate an epizootic to prevent the development of an outbreak and to minimize tree damage. The virus appears to spread, and field tests with reduced dosages indicate that that small amount of virus applied can still decimate larval populations and prevent tree mortality, at considerably reduced cost.
WELCOME TO THE Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory
he Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory was formed in 2007 from the former Insect Biocontrol & Chemicals Affecting Insect Behavior Laboratories. Our mission is to develop new, cost-effective and sustainable strategies for controlling native insect pests and newly-introduced invasive species. Our laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach to develop and evaluate a wide range of methods and tools for pest control, including...he Invasive Insect Biocontrol and Behavior Laboratory was formed in 2007 from the former Insect Biocontrol & Chemicals Affecting Insect Behavior Laboratories. Our mission is to develop new, cost-effective and sustainable strategies for controlling native insect pests and newly-introduced invasive species. Our laboratory uses a multidisciplinary approach to develop and evaluate a wide range of methods and tools for pest control, including...
An average human, utterly unremarkable in every way, can perceive a million different colors. Vermilion, puce, cerulean, periwinkle, chartreuse—we have thousands of words for them, but mere language can never capture our extraordinary range of hues. Our powers of color vision derive from cells in our eyes called cones, three types in all, each triggered by different wavelengths of light. Every moment our eyes are open, those three flavors of cone fire off messages to the brain. The brain then combines the signals to produce the sensation we call color. Vision is complex, but the calculus of color is strangely simple: Each cone confers the ability to distinguish around a hundred shades, so the total number of combinations is at least 1003, or a million. Take one cone away—go from being what scientists call a trichromat to a dichromat—and the number of possible combinations drops a factor of 100, to 10,000. Almost all other mammals, including dogs and New World monkeys, are dichromats. The richness of the world we see is rivaled only by that of birds and some insects, which also perceive the ultraviolet part of the spectrum. Researchers suspect, though, that some people see even more. Living among us are people with four cones, who might experience a range of colors invisible to the rest. It’s possible these so-called tetrachromats see a hundred million colors, with each familiar hue fracturing into a hundred more subtle shades for which there are no names, no paint swatches. And because perceiving color is a personal experience, they would have no way of knowing they see far beyond what we consider the limits of human vision. Over the course of two decades, Newcastle University neuroscientist Gabriele Jordan and her colleagues have been searching for people endowed with this super-vision. Two years ago, Jordan finally found one. A doctor living in northern England, referred to only as cDa29 in the literature, is the first tetrachromat known to science. She is almost surely not the last. The first hint that tetrachromats might exist came in a 1948 paper on color blindness. Dutch scientist HL de Vries was studying the eyes of color-blind men, who, along with two normal cones, possess a mutant cone that is less sensitive to either green or red, making it difficult for them to distinguish the two colors. He tested their vision by having them perform a basic matching task. Twiddling the dials on a lab instrument back and forth, the men had to mix red and green light so that the result, to their eyes, matched a standard shade of yellow. To compensate for their difficulty in discerning hues, color-blind men need to add more green or red than normal trichromats to make a match. Out of curiosity, De Vries tested the daughters of one subject and observed that even though they were not color-blind—they seemed to distinguish red and green as well as anyone—they needed more red in their test light than normal people to make the match precise. If the women weren’t color-blind, what was going on? Pondering the situation, De Vries thought he saw an explanation. Color blindness ran in families, affecting men but not women. While color-blind men had two normal cones and one mutant cone, De Vries knew that the mothers and daughters of color-blind men had the mutant cone and three normal cones—a total of four separate cones in their eyes. He suspected the extra cone could be why the women perceived color differently—not because they saw less than most people but because they saw more. He speculated that such women might be using the fourth cone to distinguish more colors than a trichromat, but he buried this insight on the last page of the paper. De Vries never wrote about four-coned women again.
In the 1980s neuroscientist John Mollon of Cambridge University, then Jordan’s adviser there, was studying color vision in monkeys and became interested in De Vries’s note on tetrachromacy. Mollon and Jordan realized that since color blindness is common, four-coned women must be as well. Jordan estimates they make up as many as 12 percent of women. To find if tetrachromats were hidden in this group, the researchers sought out the mothers of color-blind sons and had them take matching tests similar to the one used by De Vries, but with a twist. If they were true tetrachromats, they would never be able to make a satisfactory match, because they would be able to sense color gradations beyond those available on the test. No luck: Mollon and Jordan found that women with four cones could consistently make a match on the tests. Jordan began to have doubts. Perhaps the fourth cone was not active. Perhaps super-vision was not real. In 2007 Jordan, now at Newcastle, returned to testing using a new method. Sitting in a dark room, peering into a lab device, women saw three colored circles flash before their eyes. To a trichromat, they all looked the same. To a tetrachromat, though, one would stand out. That circle was not a pure color but a subtle mixture of red and green light randomly generated by a computer. Only a tetrachromat would be able to perceive the difference, thanks to the extra shades made visible by her fourth cone. Jordan gave the test to 25 women who all had a fourth cone. One woman, code named cDa29, got every single question correct. “I was jumping up and down,” Jordan says. She had finally found her tetrachromat. What would it be like to see through cDa29’s eyes? Unfortunately, she cannot describe how her color vision compares with ours, any more than we can describe to a dichromatic person what red looks like. “This private perception is what everybody is curious about,” Jordan says. “I would love to see that.” Jordan’s next challenge is discovering why cDa29 is different from the other women she tested. “We now know tetrachromacy exists,” Jordan says. “But we don’t know what allows someone to become functionally tetrachromatic, when most four-coned women aren’t.” Jay Neitz, a vision researcher at the University of Washington, thinks that potential tetrachromats may need practice to awaken their abilities. “Most of the things that we see as colored are manufactured by people who are trying to make colors that work for trichromats,” he says. “It could be that our whole world is tuned to the world of the trichromat.” He also suspects the natural world may not have enough variation in color for the brain to learn to use a fourth cone. Tetrachromats might never need to draw on their full capacity. They may be trapped in a world tailored to creatures with lesser powers. Perhaps if these women regularly visited a lab where they had to learn—really learn—to tell extremely subtle shades apart, they would awaken in themselves the latent abilities of their fourth cone. Then they could begin to see things they had never tried to see before, a kaleidoscope of colors beyond our imagining.
Detecting tetrachromacy in human subjects Z Jakab, K Wenzel Human tetrachromacy is a rare condition in which the retina contains four different types of wavelength-selective photoreceptors (cones). There exist reports of both L-cone tetrachromacy, and M-cone tetrachromacy (two subtypes of the long-wave-sensitive or the middle-wave-sensitive cones in the same retina). We developed two psychophysical procedures, one for identifying L-cone tetrachromacy, and another to test for M-cone tetrachromacy. First we presented to subjects 720 nm and 760 nm monochromatic lights in the two halves of a vertically split circular field viewed through the aperture of a Pulfrich spectrophotometer. Subjects were asked to adjust the intensity of the 720 nm light to achieve a perfect match; we expected that L-cone tetrachromats would always sense a residual hue difference between the two lights. In testing for M-cone tetrachromacy, we looked for a peak of discriminability (corresponding to the sensitivity crossover of two slightly different M-cone subtypes) in the middle portion of the spectrum while the subjects' L-cones and M-cones were desensitised by a mixture of 380 nm and 720 nm lights. Eighty colour-normal subjects were examined; one L-cone tetrachromat and one M-cone tetrachromat were identified. Further examination of these subjects is in progress.
Viral “Junk” DNA The greatest shock of genomic science was to find that the human genome contains more viral than “human” genes. That is, the human genome is made from thousands of viruses that infected our distant ancestors. They got there by infecting eggs or sperm, inserting their own DNA into ours.
Viruses are peculiar things that at a zoomed-in level may look very pretty or downright creepy depending on the virus. A virus may have DNA or RNA and the type of genetic material depends on the function and nature of the virus. Some are very infectious, others allowed us be alive since the gene that encodes for a protein that allows for babies to fuse to their mothers during pregnancy, is a virus gene. Most of the genetic diversity can be found in virus genes. Scientists agree that there are some 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 viruses in the ocean and it matches almost nothing to any gene from any microbe, animal, plant or other organism, even from any other known virus. All living things have hundreds or thousands of genes imported by viruses. There are a group of viral species known as retroviruses which insert their genetic material into the host cell’s DNA. When the host cell divides, it copies the virus’s DNA along with its own. Retroviruses have “on switches” that prompt their host cell to make proteins out of nearby genes. Sometimes their switches turn on host genes that ought to be kept shut off, and cancer can result. This is precisely what our junk DNA –ncRNA- seems to be doing “next” to genes that have to do with stem cells and cancer cells. What is known as endogenous retrovirus – endogenous meaning generated within, are the viruses that lurk in the genomes of just about every major group of vertebrates, from fish to reptiles to mammals. Virologists have found retrovirus-like segments in our human genome and they were able to track its genetic code down to an original functioning virus. The virus was called Phoenix, for the mythical bird that rose from its own ashes. It is known that part of our junk DNA, the retrotransposable elements, are viral in its origin. It includes the endogenous retroviruses. But it is now argued that ncRNA (non coding RNA) might be viral in its origin as well. This has interesting implications in the sense that epigenetic control of gene expression involves this junk DNA – ncRNAs. It would mean that our entire junk DNA (98%) might well be very functional epigenetically speaking (more info on epigenetics below), and active in the induction of regulatory genes that code for stem cells, or for reprogramming o modulating genes known to response to oxidative stress, DNA damage and p53 – a protein that regulates the cell cycle and is implicated in about half of all human cancers. You might be wondering why we are reviewing all this viral genome potential. As it happens, the damage done by evil lectins – antinutrients – in our diet is through a lock and key mechanism, that is, a circulating lectin serves as a key that unlocks the cell to within it attaches. Evil lectins can initiate a cascade of events once they attach to the cell “mem-brain” that may lead to attraction of the immune system, cell death, production of chemicals, multiplication of the cell and so forth. It depends. And it might well depend on the adaptation response from the viral-like properties inside the cell, our “junk” DNA. Harmful lectins – such as the ones found in gluten, soy, dairy, corn – cause inflammation and damage without a defense/immune response which end up being secondary to the initial damage. Some response in quite a drastic way (i.e. autoimmune diseases) others respond in a milder way, constituting thus the wide nature of symptoms among people. Moreover, wheat’s evil lectin (WGA) and viruses share similar properties. For instance, when the influenza virus incorporates its own genetic material into our cells, the defense/immune system must attack its own virally transformed cell in order to fight the infection. WGA has access to our bodies and to our cells’ “mem-brain’s” through viral ports. Then they influence gene expression and trigger autoimmune attacks like viruses do. As John B. Symes, D.V.M. pointed
The future of war is going to look really, really weird. The “super soldier” research that DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is working on right now is unlike anything we have ever seen before. If DARPA is successful, and if the American people don’t object, the soldiers of the future will be genetically modified transhumans capable of superhuman feats. Do you want a soldier that can run faster than Usain Bolt? DARPA is working on that. Do you want a soldier that won’t need food or sleep for days? DARPA is working on that? Do you want a soldier that can regrow lost limbs? DARPA is working on that. Do you want a soldier that can outlift Olympic weightlifters and that can communicate telepathically? DARPA is working on that. Americans flock to movies about superheroes and mutants, and soon they may actually have real life “superheroes” and “mutants” fighting their wars for them. But at what cost? A recent Daily Mail article detailed many of the strange research projects that DARPA is working on right now. The fact that DARPA has actually allowed these projects to be revealed in the mainstream media probably means that the development stage is nearly over and they are ready to try to convince a wary public to accept them….
Tomorrow’s soldiers could be able to run at Olympic speeds and will be able to go for days without food or sleep, if new research into gene manipulation is successful. According to the U.S. Army’s plans for the future, their soldiers will be able to carry huge weights, live off their fat stores for extended periods and even regrow limbs blown apart by bombs. The plans were revealed by novelist Simon Conway, who was granted behind-the-scenes access to the Pentagon’s high-tech Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Most gene modification techniques involve placing genetically modified DNA inside a virus and injecting it into the human body. The virus then enters human cells, and its modified DNA attaches itself to the human DNA inside those cells.
When you really stop and think about this kind of technology, the implications are staggering. Could viruses be used to genetically modify humanity on a large scale? How would the rest of humanity respond to a “super race” of mutants that are clearly “superior” to the rest of us in a bunch of different ways? When you start messing with creation, it opens up Pandora’s Box. The possibilities are endless, but so are the potential problems. Just because we can do something does not mean that we should. There may be consequences decades down the road that we cannot even conceive of right now. Other “super soldier” research projects that DARPA is working on at the moment involve advanced technology and robotics rather than genetic modification. For example, DARPA is developing helmets that would allow our soldiers to communicate telepathically….
More recently, DARPA’s Silent Talk programme has been exploring mind-reading technology with devices that can pick up the electrical signals inside soldiers’ brains and send them over the internet. With these implants, entire armies will be able to talk without radios. Orders will leap instantly into soldiers’ heads and commanders’ wishes will become the wishes of their men.
I don’t know about you, but I would not want anyone reading my thoughts or beaming orders directly into my brain. DARPA is also working on “exoskeletons” that will enable soldiers to lift incredible weights without tiring and perform other physical tasks that normal soldiers simply could not do. You can see video of this kind of exoskeleton being demonstrated right here. DARPA is also hoping to one day implant microchips into our soldiers that will constantly monitor the health and physical condition of our boys and girls in the field. For many, these new technologies are very exciting. For others, they cross the line. Merging men with machines or messing with the very fabric of life is the kind of thing that science fiction movies are made of. Unfortunately, if we make a very serious mistake we just can’t get up and turn off the movie. Any mistakes that we make could stay with us indefinitely. But at this point it looks like there is very little standing in the way of these kinds of technology becoming mainstream. Tests on rats have already shown what is possible….
In 2005, Ronald Evans, a hormone expert working at the Salk Institute of Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, showed how genetic modification can increase the athletic power of mice. Evans produced a group of genetically modified mice with an increased amount of slow-twitch muscle fibre. This type of fibre is associated with strong cardiovascular muscles and boosts an athlete’s endurance. Evans’s mice could run for an hour longer than normal mice, were resistant to weight gain no matter what they were fed on, and remained at peak fitness even when they took no exercise.
How much do you think people would pay to be able to remain at peak fitness without doing any exercise at all? When the general public realizes what is possible there will be an overwhelming demand for these technologies. So just how far can all of this go? Well, futurist Ray Kurzeil believes that we are only about 20 years away from actually achieving immortality….
Ray Kurzweil, a world-renowned scientist and author of The Singularity is Near, thinks the world as we know it will be unrecognizable in 20 years. One of the changes he thinks are possible: Scientists may finally crack immortality. “I and many other scientists now believe that in around 20 years we will have the means to reprogramme our bodies’ stone-age software so we can halt, then reverse, aging,” he writes in The Sun. “Then nanotechnology will let us live for ever. Ultimately, nanobots will replace blood cells and do their work thousands of times more effectively.”
Eternal life? I wouldn’t count on the human body being able to live forever. But without a doubt we are going to see a whole lot of humans attempting to “merge with technology” and “reprogram themselves” through genetic modification in future years. The wars of the future will look nothing like the wars of the past. The genetically modified soldiers of the future will be supported by robots on the ground and by “swarms of drones” in the sky. In fact, the “swarms of drones” are already here. The following is from a recent CBS News article….
According to a Boeing press release, the researchers and engineers conducted the test flights in Oregon in June using two ScanEagle drones which performed like a “swarm of insects.” The flight operator was able to connect with the autonomous drones using only a laptop and a military radio. Boeing engineers said the drones were able to complete tasks more efficiently by communicating with each other. “This swarm technology may one day enable warfighters in battle to request and receive time-critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information directly from airborne (unmanned aerial vehicles) much sooner than they can from ground control stations today,” Gabriel Santander, program director of Advanced Autonomous Networks for Boeing Phantom Works, said in the press release.
Technology is advancing at such a rapid pace that it is really hard to keep track of it all. But where is it taking us? Recently I wrote about the nightmarish high tech Big Brother surveillance grid that is going up all around us. Our lives are becoming completely dominated by technology, and that is a very dangerous thing. We like to think that all of these new technologies will always be used for good and will never fall into the hands of tyrannical madmen, but history tells us that liberty and freedom are very rare phenomenons. Throughout most of human history, most people have lived under some form of tyranny. And today liberty and freedom are already rapidly disappearing all over the globe. Technology has progressed to the point where it would definitely be possible for a “scientific dictatorship” to completely and totally dominate humanity unlike anything we have ever seen before. So we should be very careful about what we create. We might be creating our own living hell.