The search for cancer cure through cutting-edge technology and rigorous initiatives such as Joe Biden’s cancer moonshot may one day backfire and give way to a new wave of warfare using personalized bioweapons, an expert warned.
John Sotos, chief medical officer at Intel, cautioned that while such a medical breakthrough may prove beneficial, the resulting output may in turn be used against humanity by way of tailoring diseases that may infect individuals, families, or even entire races.
Speaking at the DEF CON hacking conference in Las Vegas, Sotos quipped that the fight against cancer will require the use of an ultra-precise, DNA-altering technology. The expert warned that once a similar technology gets fine-tuned, it can finally surpass hurdles in creating bioweapons.
Sotos also stressed that while modifying certain diseases and weaponizing them may prove effective in eliminating the enemy, the diseases still have the potential to spread beyond its distribution area and go back to its original source.
“The reason you haven’t heard much about bioweapons is that they’ve been held back by a pretty severe limitation, which is the potential for blowback. The cancer moonshot is going to really drive new technologies to manipulate DNA because cancer is a disease of DNA. [And] the same exquisite targeting that allows it to attack only your cancer cells also overcomes the blowback potential for bioweapons,” Sotos told The Guardian website.
Expert: Technology may alter genes on the fly
Sotos further explained that Biden’s attempt to create a gene-specific technology to target cancer cells could also mean potential mass fatalities. According to Sotos, if technology allows scientists to target a specific gene, it would be possible to develop a bioweapon that makes use of gene manipulation to target individuals of certain race, family, or gender.
For instance, if a group of militant vegans wanted to end meat consumption, it would be easier for them to target human genes associated with meat intake. It could also happen that radical mysogynists could exploit a gene associated with sunlight tolerance to force all women into wearing veils.
Sotos also suggested that the attack might happen on an individual level. According to the expert, suspects could one day utilize the gene-specific technology to steal a public figure’s genetic code or target whole families by altering the genes of someone related. (Related: Off-the-shelf DNA can be used to manufacture biological weapons, stunned scientists discover.)
“Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year. And they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years. Getting ready for a global pandemic is every bit as important as nuclear deterrence and avoiding a climate catastrophe. Innovation, cooperation and careful planning can dramatically mitigate the risks presented by each of these threats,” Sotos said in a separate article on The Daily Mail website.