“The unregulated advancement of biotech is creating a new arms race and threatening our personal autonomy.” – Spartacus
A document posted online under the name “Spartacus” went viral in 2021. The ‘Covid letter’ summed up the state of the ‘pandemic’ at the time, calling out the so-called ‘science’ attributed to Covid-19 and the vaccines. Since then, Spartacus has written several documents including ‘Covid-19: A Web of Corruption’ and a four-part series ‘Covid-19: Deep Dive’
Below is the latest article published by Spartacus, ‘The Weaponization of Biotech’:
“After our previous article on this topic, I was asked by someone off-site to cite specific examples of biotechnology that could be misused for nefarious purposes, or could have utility as clandestine military or intelligence tools. It was a fair criticism. I listed off a number of technologies that could have such uses, but did not cite any specific articles to make my case. This article will address that deficiency.”
We are publishing Spartacus’ this document in sections for those who struggle to find the time to read the paper in full in one sitting. This is the second in our series.
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Neural Network Disruptors
Human neurons and synapses are fascinating things. They are fine-tuned electrochemical devices that form the basis of our senses, cognition, and motor impulses. Our autonomic nervous system even regulates countless things in our bodies that we don’t even exert conscious control over.
Your ability to perceive your surroundings – to see, hear, and smell what’s around you – depends on your nervous system. So does your ability to recognize where you are and to remember if you’ve been there before. In fact, your very capacity to wonder how you know where you are depends on your nervous system!
Naturally, due to the vital role of nervous tissue in the proper functioning of our bodies, these tissues are often a target of chemical warfare. Nerve agents such as VX work by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase enzymes, leading to a buildup of acetylcholine and subsequent paralysis of the diaphragm and heart muscle, leading to respiratory failure and, eventually, cardiac arrest.
Nerve agents are illegal because they cause obvious and indiscriminate harm to people, with even the tiniest exposures being potentially quite lethal. However, in recent years, a new, little-known class of agent has emerged; nanoparticle neural disruptors.
Despite having many beneficial properties, nanoparticle also raises few health hazard and toxicity issues. To better understand the safety profile of the nanoparticles, several attempts have been made to know whether nanoparticles cause any side effects or toxic effects. It has been shown that nanomaterials possess highly activated surfaces that are capable of inducing carcinogens, mutagens, or health hazard responses.52–54 Furthermore, it has been reported that carbon nanotubes induced fibrogenesis on nanostructured substrates.55 Moreover, nanoparticles are 100 times smaller than normal red blood cells, which increase the potential for interaction, and there is evidence that nanoparticles interact with proteins, DNA,56 lung cells, and viruses. The current assumption is that nanoparticles such as silica featured as hydrophilic, hydrophobic, or even amphiphilic that can be taken up by human membranes may pose serious threats. Hence, understanding nanoparticles’ interaction with living cells and other biologic systems, especially with central nervous system (CNS), is critical. Nanoparticles have potential functionality and toxic effects on human neuronal cells because they can pass through biologic membranes.57 It is known that the biologic half-life of silver in the CNS is longer than that in other organs, suggesting that there may be some significant physiologic functions, consequences, and risks to the brain because of prolonged exposure. In addition, effects of nanoparticles on the blood–brain barrier (BBB) were also evaluated, and it was found that administration of Ag, Cu, or Al/Al2O3 nanoparticles showed disrupted BBB function and induced brain edema formation.58 Moreover, AgNPs induced BBB destruction and astrocyte swelling and caused neuronal degeneration.59 In the present review, we have discussed various nanoparticles and their impacts on the neuron’s biology and tried to evaluate their responses (stimulatory or inhibitory), which were studied in both in vitro and in vivo models, respectively.
Engineered small graphene oxide (s-GO) sheets were previously shown to reversibly down-regulate glutamatergic synapses in the hippocampus of juvenile rats, disclosing an unexpected translational potential of these nanomaterials to target selective synapses in vivo. Synapses are anatomical specializations acting in the Central Nervous System (CNS) as functional interfaces among neurons. Dynamic changes in synaptic function, named synaptic plasticity, are crucial to learning and memory. More recently, pathological mechanisms involving dysfunctional synaptic plasticity were implicated in several brain diseases, from dementia to anxiety disorders. Hyper-excitability of glutamatergic neurons in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala complex (LA) is substantially involved in the storage of aversive memory induced by stressful events enabling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Here we translated in PTSD animal model the ability of s-GO, when stereotaxically administered to hamper LA glutamatergic transmission and to prevent the behavioral response featured in long-term aversive memory. We propose that s-GO, by interference with glutamatergic plasticity, impair LA-dependent memory retrieval related to PTSD.
Nanomaterials such as nanoparticles, nanoribbons, nanowires, and nanotubes vary greatly in their biological effects depending on the elements that they’re made out of. It’s easy to hear the word nanoparticle and assume that they’re all the same thing, when they’re not. The possible configurations of nanomaterials are almost limitless. Lipid nanoparticles of the type used for gene transfection (and in nucleic acid “vaccines”) are mostly degradable, being composed of a PEGylated lipid that readily merges with cell membranes and deposits the contents of the liposome into the cell.
Other types of nanoparticles, such as ones made of carbon, silicon, gold, silver, cadmium selenide, or gallium arsenide have different electrical properties and biological/toxicological effects. Many metal, carbon, or silicate nanoparticles are persistent, resist degradation, and may trigger ongoing inflammation, much like asbestosis or silicosis. Some nanoparticles are so small – much smaller than viruses, even – that they can create pores in cell membranes, alter the electrical properties of cells, or even integrate with intracellular structures.
When combined with the politicization of neuroscience, the potential for abuse here is incredible. Take the above example, for instance, where graphene oxide injected into the brains of rats reduced the synaptic plasticity of the amygdala, effectively numbing it to new stimuli. This impaired the threat processing capabilities of the rats.
The scientists have billed this as a possible PTSD treatment, and that may be so. However, let us consider a slightly different, more nefarious application.
Neuroimaging studies suggest that political ideology involves conservative-liberal differences in the amygdala, insula, and ACC.4,69,70 Just being interested in politics has increased activity in the amygdala and the ventral striatum,71 and encoding party preference activates bilateral insula and the ACC.69 An MRI study of 90 young adults shows that political conservatives, compared with political liberals, have greater gray matter in the right amygdala,72 and an fMRI study involving a risk-taking task shows that political conservatives have greater activity in the right amygdala.73 The association of political conservatism with the right amygdala,72 a structure that is bilaterally sensitive to emotional saliency, especially fear, suggests an increased processing of potential signals for threat.74 Although the anterior insula has a prominent role in the experience of disgust, brain responses to disgusting stimuli may show a more distributed pattern of differences between political conservatism and liberalism,38 consistent with a differential sensitivity for disgust among political conservatives. The unexpected association of political liberalism with activity in the left posterior insula in one study may reflex an additional role of the insula in the expression of interpersonal trust.75 Finally, political liberals have greater gray matter and increased ERP activity in the ACC,12,72,73 consistent with a sensitivity for processing signals for potential change.
Some neuroscientists believe that conservative and liberal brains are physically different, such that liberals rely more on the anterior cingulate cortex, which governs attention, anticipation of reward, morality, impulse control, and emotion, whereas conservatives rely on the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that governs fear, anxiety, and aggressive responses to aversive stimuli.
What if you met a bioethicist who argued that it was morally acceptable (and not incapacitating or harmful) to partly disable people’s amygdalae to reduce the neurological fear responses involved in bigoted, intolerant, or immoral behavior?
Actually, that was a trick question. They’ve already said that. Moreover, they’ve argued that it should be done without people’s knowledge or consent.
Some theorists argue that moral bioenhancement ought to be compulsory. I take this argument one step further, arguing that if moral bioenhancement ought to be compulsory, then its administration ought to be covert rather than overt. This is to say that it is morally preferable for compulsory moral bioenhancement to be administered without the recipients knowing that they are receiving the enhancement. My argument for this is that if moral bioenhancement ought to be compulsory, then its administration is a matter of public health, and for this reason should be governed by public health ethics. I argue that the covert administration of a compulsory moral bioenhancement program better conforms to public health ethics than does an overt compulsory program. In particular, a covert compulsory program promotes values such as liberty, utility, equality, and autonomy better than an overt program does. Thus, a covert compulsory moral bioenhancement program is morally preferable to an overt moral bioenhancement program.
2 THE UTILITARIAN CASE FOR MBE
According to its proponents, MBE is expected to increase the likelihood that we correctly estimate the right thing to do and act upon it. However, the estimation of what constitutes the correct action will depend on personal beliefs and preferences: To be morally enhanced is to have those dispositions which make it more likely that you will arrive at the correct judgement of what it is right to do and more likely to act on that judgement. It is disputed what the right thing to do is and how we would arrive at the right course of action. What constitutes moral enhancement will depend on the account one accepts of right action.10
In order to understand what this entails for utilitarian morality, we can start by examining whether the ends and means of MBE are right/permissible on utilitarian grounds. Thus, in this section, I will examine (i) how MBE affects moral agents and their actions (whether it promotes utilitarian ends), and (ii) whether the act of enhancement itself is right or permissible on utilitarian grounds (whether the means of MBE are acceptable). First, I look into MBE’s correspondence with basic utilitarian principles and show that it could modify moral agents in ways that would indirectly facilitate utilitarian ends. Second, I explore the conditions that MBE would need to satisfy to be optimific, and I argue that there are good reasons to believe that it would meet these requirements.
2.1 Making better utilitarian agents?
Advocates of MBE envision this type of moral betterment as an extension of duties recognized by commonsense morality because such an approach may have the best overall consequences. ‘Folk’ or ‘commonsense’ morality is a globally shared set of moral attitudes that are ‘a common denominator of the diversely specified moralities of human societies over the world’.11 It amounts to ‘a set of psychological dispositions to react in particular ways in certain types of situations’.12 MBE is supposed to modify these dispositions. To fix some of the reoccurring flaws of moral psychology, Persson and Savulescu propose ‘a rather modest extension of commonsense morality, an extension which puts greater emphasis upon duties that commonsense morality already recognizes’.13 MBE is supposed to strengthen pro-moral emotions (sympathy, cooperation, etc.) or, alternatively, diminish counter-moral emotions (racial aversion, violent aggression, etc.).14
There are treaties that prevent the usage of chemical and biological weapons to maim and kill. There are no treaties that prevent the usage of chemical and biological weapons that manipulate the political behavior or moral values of populations by targeting specific structures in their brains with nanoparticles.
Covert moral bioenhancement may not sound like much of a weapon, but it is one. Suppose you distributed neural network disruptor nanoparticles over Moscow or Saint Petersburg, and the people there suddenly started to believe that the Russian government was deeply immoral and worthy of being violently overthrown, and then they proceeded to riot in the streets.
Whether or not the Russian government is immoral and worthy of being violently overthrown is beside the point. The point is, “morally enhancing” the citizens of certain countries may cause political and societal friction that could tear a country apart, thus achieving a military objective (i.e. deposing a dictator or tearing asunder the social fabric of a rival power). This manipulation of human behavior could lead to a population acting against its own interests, ripping apart the very institutions and infrastructure that they rely on in their everyday lives.
In short, a neuroweapon that is bloodless in its immediate effect (that is, one that causes no clear physical harm to the subject) may be extremely cruel and lethal in its long-term effect, when the subject experiences the effects of material deprivation and societal breakdown as a result of actions they had no conscious control over. If they ended up in the midst of a civil war due to such cognitive destabilization, any number of things could happen to them. They may lose their standing with their social circles. They may lose their job. They may live through famine. Their home could be bombed into rubble, their children crushed under hundreds of tons of concrete and brick. When they sit in the streets, their heads hanging in their hands, they will have no ability to even reflect on what led them there. The particles in their minds will not allow it.
That is the very definition of a weapon. That’s a tool for a brutal countervalue attack against a rival nation’s civilian population. If someone has been manipulated by a neuroweapon into fighting against their own government, I can tell you what they’re not doing; going to work, shopping for groceries, hanging out with their friends, or any of the other things that we ordinary people happen to call “living”.
If the world’s greater powers use neuroweapons against each other’s citizens that heighten aggression and antigovernment tendencies, it will lead to universal madness. Contrariwise, if they use long-acting anxiolytics against their own citizens to quell populist revolt, it will spell the end of politics as we know it.
Dr. James Giordano, a bioethicist connected to DARPA and the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics, has written extensively on this matter and held chilling speeches about it.
Armin Krishnan has also written extensively on the matter, as this review of his textbook articulates:
Military Neuroscience is mainly confined to the more tangible problem of examining how understanding and manipulation of the human mind can be used for military-strategic purposes. This can take the form of neurological enhancement—a quite promising area of human improvement that has captured the fascination of the Silicon Valley elite, amongst others. However, it also may be used offensively, and a considerable portion of the book is devoted to discussion of four broad types of “degradation technologies.” Some of these, such as the weaponization of hallucinogens, are broadly familiar from (often dubiously ethical) Cold War–era research, but others would be entirely new and potentially devastating. This could include, for example, the use of “gene driving” to rapidly spread genes amongst a population of wild fauna, such as mosquitos. That modified population would then inflict disease (fatal or otherwise) on a human population—or even insert bioregulators that would alter human behavior. The insects themselves would produce the biowarfare agents, making them into a vast and constantly self-replicating army COMPARATIVE STRATEGY 2018, VOL. 37, NO. 3, 251–254 capable of inflicting massive human and economic damage before the threat itself was even fully understood.
The subjects addressed in Military Neuroscience are timely—indeed, many of the technologies that Krishnan discusses may be the subject of covert research programs in a variety of countries. When the next major conflict occurs, it is entirely possible that “neurowarfare” will play a very large, perhaps even decisive, role. States that are unready for a possible neurowarfare military revolution, and unable to defend against potentially devastating neurowarfare attacks, may find this to be a catastrophic vulnerability.
In previous articles, I also articulated the ethical risks of such nanoparticles being remotely energized to stimulate and activate specific brain regions, such as with DARPA’s N3 program.
With the advent of neurowarfare, we would move from the era of fifth-generation warfare into the era of sixth-generation warfare.
If information is the basis of fifth-generation warfare, then in sixth-generation warfare, people would be manipulated directly, using neuroweapons instead of more conventional techniques, like propaganda. This, in turn, would lead to second-order and third-order effects, such as altering the type and character of the information that people reproduce and spread socially.
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