Thursday, January 13, 2011

Your Genes at War

Biotech is slowly starting to replace cybertech in the assumptions of sci-fi writers, though many of us in gaming still cling to the glittering chrome of metal grafted to flesh. Now, the real world may be starting to catch up:

The cost of sequencing complete human genomes has been falling by about a factor of 30 per year over the last six years, the JASONs said. As a result, “it is now possible to order your personal genome sequenced today for a retail cost of under ~$20,000″ compared to around $300 million a decade ago. “This cost will likely fall to less than $1,000 by 2012, and to $100 by 2013.”

This is the exact sort of falling prices that have lead us from the giant, room-sized computers of classic Traveller to the tiny laptops many of you are probably reading this post on now. And, just as happened with computers, we can expect greater access to genome data will also lead to an increase in the number of practical applications. Apparently, the Pentagon is already considering some:

For military purposes, it will be up to the Department of Defense “to determine which phenotypes… have special relevance to military performance and medical cost containment” and then presumably to select for those. “These phenotypes might pertain to short- and long-term medical readiness, physical and medical performance, and response to drugs, vaccines, and various environmental exposures…. More specifically, one might wish to know about phenotypic responses to battlefield stress, including post-traumatic stress disorder, the ability to tolerate conditions of sleep deprivation, dehydration, or prolonged exposure to heat, cold, or high altitude, or the susceptibility to traumatic bone fracture, prolonged bleeding, or slow wound healing.”

“Both offensive and defensive military operations may be impacted by the applications of personal genomics technologies through enhancement of the health, readiness, and performance of military personnel. It may be beneficial to know the genetic identities of an adversary and, conversely, to prevent an adversary from accessing the genetic identities of U.S. military personnel.”

Huh. Maybe those genestealers are more dangerous than Games Workshop has lead us to believe...

1 comment:

Higgipedia said...

I'm starting to think that GURPS Transhuman Space is looking to be one of the more prescient games out there.