October 27, 2005

Holy Nanotech Batman

Check out the list of potential new nanobiotechnology weapons under development by the U.S. military. Let's see, we've got: ultralight body armor; "artificial muscles" built of nanomaterial; nanotech sensors capable of detecting individual molecules; camouflage suits that automatically heal a wounded soldier. It's every adolescent's comic-book fantasy! Now all we need to do is start a war or two to test this stuff out…

No, really, it's pretty stunning to see how much research money is poured into weapons. Over a third of NIAD's basic research is now in biodefense, and that's a growing share of a shrinking research budget. "Biodefense" is much like missile defense, only infinitely more lunatic, and in practice ends up creating ever more deadly biological weapons—necessary to test out the defenses, see—potentially kicking off a bioweapons arms race. Meanwhile, there's no money left for flu vaccines, or much of anything else. We are insane. Human beings are insane. But at least we'll have cool armor.
-- Brad Plumer 8:35 PM || ||