Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is "Jacking" a good term for "Genetic Hacking?"

Does anyone else remember only a few years back, when DNA sequencing was carried out across thousands of distributed home PCs running SETI-like batch software?  And how it was going to be, like, ten years to decode a fairly simple genome given the state of the art in computers at that stage was 486's and the very first Pentiums?

So it was good to see Moore's Law kick in and that first genome fell in only a few years.  Meanwhile, other DNA was being unravelled, larger more complex chunks, bigger genomes.  And now, we're at the point where the number of people with completely sequenced genomes will go from a handful, to the proverbial shitload.  In fact, the article even discusses home hobbyist gene tinkering.  Because of cheap gene sequencing technology.

My thoughts?  Almost as soon as we had civic records, we had people "hacking" records to create false personas.  When we got telephone systems, we had phreakers hacking the telephone networks to make free calls and/or create mayhem.  When we got credit cards, we had credit card fraud as well as clever ideas like gift cards. Almost before computers got on a few elite desks, there was the brain virus and then stoned virus.

Yes, we also had people who compiled great information from our civic records, telephone help and support lines, convenient ATM banking, and so much software and computing power that the genome fell in a tenth of the time that was originally predicted.  But there are always people wearing grey hats and black hats, taking advantage.

Gene technology is going to open a few very strange doors indeed.  I can imagine the first home genetics hacker to discover how to stop ageing processes by a simple genetic manipulation.  But there are also going to be some very nasty hacks.

Are we ready for this kind of onslaught?  Probably not, but that's never stopped us or slowed us down in the past.  I'm sort of hoping I can hold on long enough for some home hacker to figure out a way to regrow emphysemic lung tissue, that would be nice.  But I'm not at all looking forward to the first case of chocolate bars laced with some kid's "zombie juice" virus laying inert in it...

1 comment:

Tom said...

Isn't "Jacking" what robots do in Futurama?

I'd suggest maybe Gacking. Or Dacking (DNA Hacking)? :)

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