DARPA: Biology IS Technology, Biology is INFORMATION Technology #DARPAbit


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This is possibly the coolest (or scariest) thing I’ve seen since I become an Emerging Technologies Librarian. I wanted to blog about it a WEEK ago (which is when I made the Storify, over the weekend because I was so geeked I couldn’t wait). The reason I didn’t blog it then was because our library is moving into our renovated digs TODAY and packing took precedence. Somehow that delay just makes this even more delicious. You MUST see this!

DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is the branch of the United States government most directly and publicly associated with emerging technologies. You better bet that I pay attention to what they’re doing. I try to peek at the DARPA budget, go every so often and poke around on their site, and keep my antennae tuned for mentions of DARPA in the news. They are in the news basically all the time, so I can’t pay TOO much attention, and since in recent years they have been largely focused on robotics (a.k.a. the famous DARPA Robotics Challenge) and engineering, and I am focused on healthcare emerging tech, maybe I haven’t visited as often as I might if it was just for fun. That has changed, because DARPA is now officially into the idea of biology as technology. Check out their recent conferences on this topic: Biology is Technology!

“DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) is bringing together leading-edge technologists, start-ups, industry, and academic researchers to look at how advances in engineering and information sciences can be used to drive biology for technological advantage.”

Oh, my, yes. Now, THIS is right on target for what I want to know about in my job. And I bet there are all kinds of grants coming around and possible partnerships that our faculty will want to explore. Here are just a few of the bits the news media picked up from these conferences: targeted antibody development and THoR (Technologies for Host Resilience); brain-computer interfaces; cortical modems & optogenetics; engineered biology and GMOs more broadly; exoskeletons; memory technologies; open data and open source; prosthetics; terraforming Mars with GMOs (and there was a LOT on this!).

Craig Venter on headless humans and predicting your exact face from your DNA

There are some topics that interested me that the news hasn’t seemed to talk about yet, at least not prominently. Aging and immortality. Biocomplexity and Crohn’s disease. Cancer. Innovative research methodologies. Microbiomics. Transplantation and organ farming. Future of scholarship. Oh, and there is SO much more. It was livestreamed, but I couldn’t free up the time to watch it, so I am trying to work through the videos now. Here, join me.

DARPAtv: Biology Is Technology (San Francisco, February 2015) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6wMum5UsYvZnisi5VjUUjhpXoIMTSCwx

Arati Prabhakar – Director, DARPA
Fireside Chat: Sue Siegel CEO GE Ventures
Geoff Ling – Director, BTO: Fomenting Technological Revolution
Phillip Alvelda – Program Manager: Beyond Prosthetics
Dan Wattendorf – Program Manager: Outpacing Infectious Disease
Jack Newman, Amyris
Alicia Jackson – Deputy Director, BTO: Programming the Living World
Fireside Chat: George Church interviewed by George Dyson
Justin Sanchez – Program Manager: Brain-Machine Symbiosis
Matt Hepburn – Program Manager: It’s the Host not the Pathogen
Stephen Friend – Sage Bionetworks
Barry Pallotta- Program Manager: A Wild Ride
Doug Weber – Program Manager: Enabling the Body to Heal Itself
Justin Gallivan – Program Manager: Embracing Biological Complexity
Keynote Craig Venter – Founder and CEO, HLI, JCVI and SGI
Keynote Saul Griffith – Otherlab
Karl Deisseroth, Stanford University
Will Old, University of Colorado at Boulder
Michel Maharbiz, University of California, Berkeley
Eddie Chang, University of California, San Francisco
Adam Abate, University of California, Berkeley
Scott Ulrey: Doing Business With DARPA

DARPAtv: Biology is Technology (New York City) https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6wMum5UsYva5aoxvLejhB9eirt0TVD-K

Alicia Jackson – Deputy Director, BTO: Programming the Living World
Welcome to DARPA BiT from Dr. Steve Walker, Deputy Director of DARPA
Dr. Geoff Ling: Fomenting Technological Revolution, DARPA BiT
Martine Rothblatt: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Phillip Alvelda: The Future of Neural Interface, DARPA BiT
Dr. Alicia Jackson: Programming the Living World, DARPA BiT
Jack Newman: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Zach Serber: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Elizabeth Strychalski: Biocomplexity, DARPA BiT
COL Matt Hepburn: It’s the Host Not the Pathogen, DARPA BiT
Dr. Doug Weber: Neurobiology as Technology, DARPA BiT
Kevin Tracey: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Justin Sanchez: Brain-Machine Symbiosis, DARPA BiT
MAJ Chris Orlowski: Optimizing Human Performance, DARPA BiT
COL Dan Wattendorf: Rapid Health Protection for the Population, DARPA BiT
Dr. Harvey Lodish: Keynote at DARPA BiT
Dr. Justin Gallivan: Building with Biology, DARPA BiT
Dr. Barry Pallotta: A Wild Ride, DARPA BiT
Dr. Geoff Ling: Day 1 Closing Remarks, DARPA BiT
Dr. Geoff Ling: DARPA BiT Day Two Introduction
Dr. Stephen Friend: Sage Bionetworks – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Dr. Paul Cohen: DARPA Program Manager, DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Dr. Joel Dudley: Mount Sinai School of Medicine – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Dr. Peter Sorger: Harvard Medical School – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
John Sculley: Former CEO of Apple and Pepsi-Cola – DARPA BiT Keynote Speaker
Scott Ulrey: DARPA Contract Management Office – DARPA BiT
Dr. Geoff Ling: Day 2 Conclusion – DARPA BiT

So much good stuff! I just had to make a Storify to integrate the videos with the pics and tweets.

And I made a big playlist with all of the videos so far, from all the sessions (partly because I started making this playlist before I found theirs, and because I want all of it in one place, easy for me to find).

Patricia Anderson: Playlist: DARPAbit: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEEZFNZ4nUEDTdj_dxxYLz9z7kSZH-oP1


REFERENCES (Chronological order)

2015/02

Robbin A. Miranda, William D. Casebeer, Amy M. Hein, Jack W. Judy, Eric P. Krotkov, Tracy L. Laabs, Justin E. Manzo, Kent G. Pankratz, Gill A. Pratt, Justin C. Sanchez, Douglas J. Weber, Tracey L. Wheeler, Geoffrey S.F. Lin. DARPA-funded Efforts in the Development of Novel Brain–Computer Interface Technologies. H+ Magazine February 9, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/02/09/darpa-funded-efforts-development-novel-brain-computer-interface-technologies/

Peter Rothman. Video Friday: DARPA Prosthetics Research. H+ Magazine February 13, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/02/13/video-friday-darpa-prosthetics-research/

Peter Rothman. Biology is Technology — DARPA is Back in the Game With A Big Vision and It Is H+. H+ Magazine February 15, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/02/15/biology-technology-darpa-back-game-big-vision-h/

Max Plenke. These Are the 7 Ways the Government Wants to Change the Human Body for the Future. Tech.Mic June 26, 2015. http://mic.com/articles/121341/darpa-biotech-7-ways-the-government-wants-to-change-the-human-body-for-the-future

2015/04

Peter Rothman. Restoring Active Memory Replay — DARPA Seeks Super Learning and Enhanced Memory Technologies. H+ Magazine April 28, 2015. http://hplusmagazine.com/2015/04/28/restoring-active-memory-replay-darpa-seeks-super-learning-and-enhanced-memory-technologies/

Maxx Chatsko. Can DARPA Change Your Mind on Engineered Biology? The Motley Fool interviews DARPA’s Dr. Alicia Jackson from the Biological Technologies Office. The Motley Fool April 30, 2015. http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2015/04/30/can-darpa-change-your-mind-on-engineered-biology.aspx

2015/06

Sara Reardon. The Pentagon’s gamble on brain implants, bionic limbs and combat exoskeletons. Nature News June 10, 2015. http://www.nature.com/news/the-pentagon-s-gamble-on-brain-implants-bionic-limbs-and-combat-exoskeletons-1.17726

Lily Hay Newman. Researchers Sharing Data Was Supposed to Change Science Forever. Did It? Slate: Future Tense June 24, 2015. http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2015/06/24/darpa_s_biology_is_technology_conference_discusses_problems_with_open_source.html

Brian Wang. DARPA wants to engineer from millions of organisms and not just yeast and ecoli. Next Big Future June 25, 2015. http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/06/darpa-wants-to-engineer-from-millions.html

Carl Engelking. DARPA Is Supposedly Engineering Organisms to Make Mars Livable. Discover Magazine June 26, 2015. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/2015/06/26/darpa-is-engineering-organisms-to-make-mars-livable/

Carl Tanaka. DARPA Genetically Engineering Organisms for Terraforming Mars into Livable Planet. ReliaWire June 27, 2015. http://reliawire.com/2015/06/darpa-genetically-engineering-organisms-for-terraforming-mars-into-livable-planet/

DARPA to terraform Mars with human-engineered organisms. Business Standard June 28, 2015. http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/darpa-to-terraform-mars-with-human-engineered-organisms-115062800459_1.html

3 responses to “DARPA: Biology IS Technology, Biology is INFORMATION Technology #DARPAbit

  1. si baker-goodwin

    Hi PF – I worked briefly somewhere that I had access to materials produced by that group. The ones I saw were on new methods for disabling people in conflicts. Actual working scifi pain-inflicting disablement and death. It made me sick to my stomach. I understand the allure of intellectually-stimulating tech/bio stuff, but I really wonder at the motivations of the defense dept, whose reason for being is to advance the economic agenda of our country at least as often as, if not more frequently than, protecting the citizenry from brutality and reactionary violence ( possibly morivated by that economic impact in the aggressors’s worlds).

    So if your gut recognizes the scarey part, O brilliant librarian for whom I have much respect–I hope you pay very close attention to that gut!

    Hope you are well!

    Si

    Like

    • Hi, Si! Yes, all tools and technologies can be used for good or evil; knives cut in two directions. It’s all about context, expectations, what you do with it. Many of the most awful impacts have come from inventions with noble purposes.

      Like

  2. Pingback: Gartner’s New Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle is Out! (And It’s More Surprising than Usual) | Emerging Technologies Librarian

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